Major Lawsuit Filed over Intensive 2011 Gerrymandering in Wisconsin 

Major Lawsuit Filed over Intensive 2011 Gerrymandering in Wisconsin

The US Supreme Court decision on redistricting in Arizona has opened a few doors for those concerned with the extreme gerrymandering that Republicans have done in every state they control. Today, a lawsuit was filed on the intensively partisan 2011 gerrymandering done by Republicans in Wisconsin.

The 12 plaintiffs, including former senators Tim Cullen and Dale Schultz, said the redistricting map is unconstitutional because it was drawn to the advantage of one party. The state Government Accountability Board, which runs elections, is named as the defendant.

While the Government Accountability Board wasn't involved in the redistricting, they are named in the suit because they oversee Wisconsin elections.

In the news reports I've seen, media is labeling the plaintiffs as "Democrats", but at least one of them is a Republican. Former State Senator Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) has joined the lawsuit. He voted FOR the 2011 redistricting, but has subsequently seen the light. His moderate views left him with a well-funded primary challenger and forced his decision to not run for re-election.

... some Republicans have called for restructuring the way redistricting is done to make it less partisan. For instance, former Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) voted for the maps in 2011 but since then has strongly come out against the process that was used.

"I myself am guilty of the very actions I'm joining in trying to stop," Schultz said at a press conference Wednesday. "As a former Senate majority leader I could have — in fact I should have — introduced meaningful legislation which ended partisan redistricting."

Schultz didn't address why he didn't do so at the time.

The basis of the lawsuit is that gerrymandering is Unconstitutional and that the 2011 redistricting in Wisconsin was one of the most partisan in the entire country.

"This kind of partisan gerrymandering...is unconstitutional because it treats voters unequally, diluting their voting power based on their political beliefs, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection, and because it unreasonably burdens their First Amendment rights of association and free speech," Milwaukee attorney Peter Earle wrote in the lawsuit, brought with backing of a group called Fair Elections Project Wisconsin.

"Extreme partisan gerrymandering is also contrary to core democratic values because it enables a political party to win more legislative districts — and thus more legislative power — than is warranted by that party's popular support."

We've seen the effects of the intense gerrymandering that Republicans have done as Democrats have won overall popular votes in state after state only to have Republican dominated Legislatures and Congressional delegations elected because of the way districts are drawn.

Today, despite Democrats receiving more popular votes in Wisconsin, Republicans control the Assembly 63-36 and Senate 19-14 and our Congressional Delegation contains a majority of Republicans.

Partisan gerrymandering is achieved by "cracking" and "packing" districts. Cracking districts involves breaking up voters of one party across multiple districts so they don't have a majority of votes in the districts. Packing districts amounts to stuffing large number of like-minded voters into a small number of districts to limit the number of legislators from their party that they can elect.

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