Originally created 09/02/01

Collateral damage

State Rep. Sue Burmeister, R-Augusta, made national news with her charge that her mostly male General Assembly colleagues were gerrymandering women out of the Legislature.

Citing a remap plan tentatively OK'd last week, Burmeister said, "The leadership of this state has seen fit to draw out - or mute - 18 of us, black, white, young, old, Republican, Democrat. Their disenfranchisement of the female legislator shows no prejudice."

Her case would be more persuasive had some of the 28 female Democratic lawmakers accompanied her at the press conference. But they didn't, and the reason, of course, is the leadership Burmeister complained about are Democrats.

They make no bones that their intent is to discriminate - against Republicans, not women. If some women lawmakers are collaterally damaged, it's by accident, not design.

Burmeister also hinted darkly at legal action. That's a bad idea even if she could prove discrimination. Unlike minorities, women are not a legally protected class in redistricting matters. There is no Voting Rights Act for women.

We admire Burmeister's feistiness, but her best bet to stay in the legislature next year won't be as a plaintiff in court, but as a candidate in a new district.


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