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.
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- 51 of 72 Counties Now Back Fair Maps - Matt Rothschild - Apr 15th, 2020
- 23 Advisory Votes on Gerrymandering - Matt Rothschild - Mar 25th, 2020
- City Hall: Ballots Won’t Have Duplicate Gerrymandering Questions - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 27th, 2020
- Did Gerrymandering Kill Medicaid Expansion? - Erik Gunn - Feb 25th, 2020
- Data Wonk: The Republicans’ Gerrymander Scheme - Bruce Thompson - Feb 5th, 2020
- The State of Politics: Redistricting Fight Is One Year Away - Steven Walters - Feb 3rd, 2020
Read more about Gerrymandering of Legislative Districts here