Wisconsin Public Radio

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Gerrymandering

Ruling effectively ends challenge to Republicans’ skewed legislative maps.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - Jun 28th, 2019 10:32 am
U.S. Supreme Court Building. Photo is in the Public Domain.

U.S. Supreme Court Building. Photo is in the Public Domain.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that federal courts don’t have the power to decide cases related to partisan gerrymandering, effectively ending a Wisconsin lawsuit against legislative maps drawn by Republicans in 2011.

The court ruled 5-4 that “partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts,” in an opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts.

The Supreme Court rejected the Wisconsin case in June 2018, but the door was left open to future gerrymandering rulings that could affect the state’s legislative maps.

Sachin Chheda, director of Fair Elections Project, which helped organize Wisconsin’s lawsuit, said Thursday he was disappointed by the high court’s ruling. He said his organization will now push for change outside of the courts, including through proposals in the state Legislature.

“We’re going to keep using the legislative and political processes to change how districts are drawn so we can have fair elections again in Wisconsin and across the country,” he said.

Democratic legislative leaders in Wisconsin also decried the decision.

“Republican efforts to suppress voters, restrict voting rights and rig elections through gerrymandered maps have undermined the will of the people,” said Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse. “Democrats will continue to champion non-partisan redistricting reform to empower citizens and restore fairness to our election process.”

Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, said Wisconsin’s maps have “have created a complete lack of accountability for Republican legislators.”

“The numbers confirm that Republicans have built an impenetrable electoral wall around themselves with no consequences for their actions,” Hintz said.

Gov. Tony Evers proposed a nonpartisan redistricting commission for Wisconsin in his budget. GOP lawmakers who control the state Legislature removed it from the spending plan.

Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, and Rep. Robyn Vining, D-Wauwautosa, have introduced a standalone bill that mirrors the governor’s plan. Lawmakers could take that up later this year.

But Republican leaders lauded the court’s decision Thursday morning, including former Gov. Scott Walker, who serves as the national finance chairman for the National Republican Redistricting Trust, a conservative advocacy group on the issue.

“Today’s opinion has finally pulled the federal courts out of the business of picking winners and losers in redistricting cases,” Walker said in a prepared statement.

US Supreme Court Ruling Effectively Ends Wisconsin Gerrymandering Challenge was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

One thought on “U.S. Supreme Court Allows Gerrymandering”

  1. Barb- West Bend says:

    Former Gov. Scott Walker, “Today’s opinion has finally pulled the federal courts out of the business of picking winners and losers in redistricting cases,” 

    Now we have partisan legislators drawing district lines in secret, all to the detriment of Wisconsinites, where the minority “rules” due to extreme gerrymandering. We need an independent committee that draws district lines…not the partisan legislators.

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