Briefcase: Politicians as Fiduciaries

An interview with Assistant Professor Teddy Rave.


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The right to vote is one of the most important rights granted to U.S. citizens. Assistant Professor Teddy Rave with the University of Houston Law Center teaches election law and has studied the concept of "politicians as fiduciaries."

Professor Rave explains "A fiduciary is someone who the law requires to look out for the best interests of someone else. When representatives draw their own legislative districts, there is a conflict of interest. Basically, this enables politicians to pick their voters rather than the other way around. One thought is that political representatives should be treated like fiduciaries with an obligation not to manipulate district lines to their own advantage."

Professor Rave offered some thoughts on how to avoid this conflict of interest. "One solution is setting up an independent districting commission. Under this approach, a body of citizens would draw district maps instead of the legislature. Commission meetings would be open to the public with draft maps subject to notice and comment requirements."