Former Indiana Supreme Court Justice Ted Boehm has been given a seat on the special committee set to examine gerrymandering, a common political manipulation that he once called toxic.
Boehm, who served on the Supreme Court from 1996 to 2010, was appointed to the Special Interim Study Committee on Redistricting by Indiana House of Representatives Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis. The committee was formed by the Legislature during the 2015 session with the charge of examining alternative methods for drawing districts for members of the Indiana General Assembly and Congress.
Each leader in the Statehouse has been allowed to appoint one lay member to the committee. Democratic leaders have tapped Sheila Kennedy and Tom Sugar. Indiana Senate President David Long, R-Fort Wayne, has not yet announced his appointment.
Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, is the chair of the committee. No meetings have been scheduled.
Boehm has been an outspoken critic of gerrymandering and was championed for the committee by Common Cause Indiana and the League of Women Voters. He has argued that drawing districts to ensure incumbents are easily reelected disenfranchises voters and creates chaos in legislative bodies.
“There is no constitutional ban on bullheadedness or stupidity, but there is a constitutional problem in depriving citizens of meaningful votes in legislative elections, and that is what gerrymandering does,” Boehm wrote in 2013 in a column for the Indianapolis Business Journal, a sister publication of Indiana Lawyer.
In 2011, Boehm applauded a proposal by Bosma and Torr to amend the Indiana Constitution to establish an independent commission that would map out the districts.
“The composition of the commission should also be set out either by dividing its appointments or by describing the members’ qualifications,” Boehm wrote in 2011. “Although there is no one right answer to the ‘best’ map, a group of respected citizens charged with drawing fair maps will take that obligation seriously.”