Earlier today, the Supreme Court of the United States said the Wisconsin district court needs to review the Gill v. Whitford case, which challenged the state of Wisconsin’s assembly map as an example of partisan gerrymandering. Therefore, the case is going back to the lower courts, and it seems that current district maps will remain as they are through the 2018 elections.
While the decision by SCOTUS to kick the can down the road is disappointing, the case is still very much open. Despite their decision, the court expressed deep concern over partisan gerrymandering. The case now goes back down to the lower court, where the plaintiffs will have an opportunity to prove, district by district, that their constitutional rights were violated.
“This is an issue that affects every single one of our citizens,” said Lindsay Dorff, Citizen Action of Wisconsin Organizing Cooperative member in Green Bay. “The Wisconsin legislature has spent more than three million of our tax dollars to draw and defend flawed maps. We want to see a nonpartisan process for drawing maps that is both fair and costs significantly less.”
This all comes at a time when a groundswell in support of nonpartisan redistricting is happening. To date, 39 of 72 counties have passed resolutions that call for “the creation of a nonpartisan procedure for the preparation of legislative and congressional redistricting plans.”
Wisconsin Farmers Union has long supported nonpartisan redistricting efforts in the state of Wisconsin, with the issue being voted by members as a “Special Order of Business” in our policy for the last several years.
“Most Wisconsinites want members of the Legislature to work across party lines and achieve consensus. Unfortunately, the way that our legislative districts are drawn sets us up for extreme partisanship,” said Wisconsin Farmers Union President Darin Von Ruden. “There is something wrong with democracy when legislators are choosing their voters and not the other way around.”
As an immediate response to the SCOTUS decision, the Fair Elections Project, a coalition of organizations advocating for nonpartisan redistricting, is holding a Rally for Fair Maps at the Wisconsin State Capitol, Senate Parlor, 2nd Floor tomorrow, June 19th from 12-12:45pm.
“We continue to stand proud that a group of citizens came together and took a case all the way to Supreme Court,” said Sachin Chheda, director of the Fair Elections Project, which originally organized and launched the lawsuit. “This is definitely not the end of the road.”
To learn more, check out WFU's info sheet on Nonpartisan Redistricting at the legislation page on the WFU website.