U.S. Supreme Court Should End Partisan Gerrymandering
So politicians won’t be able to “choose their voters” by the way they draw the maps.
MADISON – As the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the Wisconsin redistricting case, Gill v. Whitford, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin is urging the justices to affirm the lower court ruling. The district court last year found Wisconsin’s legislative districts to be unconstitutional based on partisan gerrymandering, and it ordered the state legislature to redraw the voting maps in time for the 2018 elections.
Since as far back as the 1940s, the League has been active in the courts and legislature to ensure fair voting districts in Wisconsin. That long tradition continued this month as we joined the League of Conservation Voters and others in filing a collaborative brief which demonstrates how Wisconsin’s rushed and secretive 2011 redistricting has led to more extreme legislation than would be expected from a more typical shift in power from one party to another.
By creating an unprecedented number of “safe districts,” in which one party is assured victory, the current Wisconsin voting maps have created a serious breakdown in the legislative process. Where the majority party used to have to reach across the aisle to gain bipartisan consensus, now it can introduce and fast-track bills with no support from the minority party and only the bare minimum opportunity for public input. Majority lawmakers, most of whom are insulated in safe districts, can do this without fear of being held accountable by voters in the next election.
Examples of the legislative breakdown have included a bill that was tracked to the desires of one multimillionaire political donor who wanted to reduce his child support payments and a case where hundreds of constituent calls and emails calling for a hearing for nonpartisan redistricting legislation were simply ignored by committee chairs in the state Senate and Assembly.
The League has held since the 1970s that voting maps should be drawn by a nonpartisan entity rather than by the legislators themselves. In the 1980s the League supported a Republican proposal to achieve nonpartisan redistricting, and now we are supporting legislation introduced by the Democrats for the same purpose. Yet in all this time our position has not changed; all that has shifted is which party is in power in the state legislature.
The Supreme Court justices have the power to end partisan gerrymandering with their ruling in Gill v. Whitford. They should do so in order to give every citizen’s vote equal weight. Then politicians won’t be able to “choose their voters” by the way they draw the maps. Instead they will have to win elections by winning over the hearts and minds of the people, as they should.
Andrea Kaminski is executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for informed and active participation in government. The League welcomes women and men across the state as members. There are 18 local Leagues in Wisconsin as well as new ones forming in Sheboygan County and Greater Chippewa Valley. Follow @LWV_WI on Twitter.
More about the Gerrymandering of Legislative Districts
- Data Wonk: John Roberts’ Nightmare - Bruce Thompson - Oct 11th, 2017
- The State of Politics: You Be The Judge on Redistricting - Steven Walters - Oct 2nd, 2017
- Op Ed: U.S. Supreme Court Should End Partisan Gerrymandering - Andrea Kaminski - Sep 26th, 2017
- Data Wonk: Judges Consider a Democratic Gerrymander - Bruce Thompson - Aug 30th, 2017
- Op Ed: 24 Counties Have Voted for Fair Maps - Matt Rothschild - Aug 25th, 2017
- Data Wonk: Right Wing Seeks to End Democracy? - Bruce Thompson - Aug 23rd, 2017
- Data Wonk: US Supreme Court Wrong on Redistricting? - Bruce Thompson - May 31st, 2017
- Op Ed: Save Taxes With Nonpartisan Redistricting - Andrea Kaminski and Lindsay Dorff - May 26th, 2017
- Data Wonk: Why GOP Backs Gerrymander - Bruce Thompson - May 24th, 2017
- Data Wonk: State’s Political Map At Issue - Bruce Thompson - May 18th, 2017
- Rep. Peter Barca Statement on Attorney General Appeal of Redistricting Decision - State Rep. Peter Barca - Feb 24th, 2017
- Fair Elections Project calls upon Legislature to focus on fair map drawing process - Wisconsin Fair Elections Project - Feb 24th, 2017
- Campaign Cash: GOP’s Redistricting Lawyers Are Big Donors - Matt Rothschild - Feb 6th, 2017
- Op Ed: Reject Partisanship, Redraw Voting Maps - Andrea Kaminski - Feb 3rd, 2017
- Rep. Peter Barca Statement on Assembly Organization Committee Secret Ballot - State Rep. Peter Barca - Feb 2nd, 2017
- Court Watch: Court’s Redistricting Order A Problem? - Bruce Thompson - Feb 1st, 2017
- Rep. Hesselbein Calls for Open, Transparent, and Public Process for Drawing New Legislative Lines - State Rep. Dianne Hesselbein - Jan 27th, 2017
- Wisconsin Federal Court Permanently Blocks State Redistricting Plan - Wisconsin Fair Elections Project - Jan 27th, 2017
- Data Wonk: 2016 Election Results Prove Gerrymandering - Bruce Thompson - Dec 28th, 2016
- Plaintiffs call for new maps for Wisconsin legislative district - Wisconsin Fair Elections Project - Dec 21st, 2016
- Data Wonk: Measuring Wisconsin’s Gerrymandering - Bruce Thompson - Dec 7th, 2016
- Sen. Taylor statement on federal court ruling against Republican gerrymandering - State Sen. Lena Taylor - Nov 21st, 2016
- Statement on Redistricting Ruling - State Sen. Chris Larson - Nov 21st, 2016
- Federal Court overturns unconstitutional gerrymandering of Wisconsin legislative districts - Wisconsin Fair Elections Project - Nov 21st, 2016
- Rep. Barca Statement on Redistricting Decision - State Rep. Peter Barca - Nov 21st, 2016
- HISTORIC DECISION: Wisconsin Federal Court Strikes Down Partisan Gerrymander and Adopts Groundbreaking Legal Standard - Campaign Legal Center - Nov 21st, 2016
- Murphy’s Law: The Myth of Democratic Gerrymandering - Bruce Murphy - Jan 26th, 2016
- Data Wonk: Can New Approach End Gerrymandering? - Bruce Thompson - Jan 6th, 2016
- Federal Lawsuit to Overturn Unconstitutional Gerrymandering of Wisconsin Legislative Districts Continues - Wisconsin Fair Elections Project - Dec 17th, 2015
- Can Auto Redistricting End Gerrymandering? - Laura Thompson - Dec 10th, 2015
- Assembly candidate Brostoff calls for non-partisan redistricting - State Rep. Jonathan Brostoff - Apr 17th, 2014
- Redistricting reform the antidote to Republican extremism - Press Release - Nov 13th, 2013
- Lazich, August, Fitzgerald and Vos Still Silent on Redistricting Reform Public Hearings As Support & Pressure Builds - Common Cause in Wisconsin - Sep 17th, 2013
- Freshmen legislators push new legislation to correct flawed partisan redistricting process - Press Release - Apr 11th, 2013