Mr. Holder said his initiative would unfold on three fronts: In court, where Democrats will challenge Republican-drawn maps they see as violating the law; on the campaign trail, where they will seek to win offices that influence redistricting; and through ballot referendums in states that allow voters to give direct approval to laws mandating new procedures for legislative apportionment….
For the moment, at least, Democrats are portraying their campaign as a matter of fairness, criticizing Republicans for having mangled the maps in places like Ohio and Michigan, so that solidly purple states are represented disproportionately by Republicans.
Democrats believe that where states have drawn maps by nonpartisan means, or by court order, it has tended to benefit them. Republicans have tended to roll their eyes at Democratic complaints about redistricting, given how aggressively some in Mr. Obama’s party drew maps in their favor when Democrats had more state-level power.
Mr. Holder said he viewed Republican gerrymandering as more extreme than anything Democrats had engineered for their own benefit in blue states. But he declined to say that Democrats should eschew gerrymandering of their own.
Yet in a sign of tensions that might later emerge, Mr. Holder suggested that some Democratic incumbents might have to be willing to run in more competitive districts, to avoid clustering core Democratic constituencies in a tiny number of districts. Some senior black lawmakers have resisted efforts to overhaul the map in ways that would make their districts even modestly whiter and more competitive.