Schimel: GOP-drawn districts reflect state’s ‘political geography’
William Burlingham

On Oct. 3, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether Wisconsin’s partisan system of drawing legislative district lines to entrench the political power of the incumbent party violates the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause.

The case is expected to have sweeping implications for American democracy.

For the record …

“This case is about whether politicians will continue to rig the maps and skew election results in their favor or whether Wisconsin voters will finally get a fair say in choosing their representatives. Gerrymandering happens on both sides of the aisle and in many states around the country, but politicians in Madison have taken it to the extreme — rigging the maps so aggressively that their legislative majority is virtually guaranteed before a single vote has been cast.” — Chris Ott, the Executive Director of the ACLU of Wisconsin. 

“Wisconsin’s extreme partisan gerrymandering system thwarts the will of the voters, weakens our democracy, and violates the First Amendment. The ACLU of Wisconsin has long fought for free and fair elections and for the right of every eligible voter to cast a ballot that counts. Now the U.S. Supreme Court has a chance to restore the integrity of our elections and rein in a gerrymandering system that has spun out of control.” — ACLU of Wisconsin board member James Hall Jr. who was part of the group that conceived of and assembled the case before the high court.

“We are looking forward to the case being argued … at the nation’s highest court. We want to see fair maps and an honest political system, and if our win is upheld, we will see positive change across the country.” — Mary Lynne Donohue, one of the plaintiffs.

“This case came from regular citizens banding together and deciding to take change into our own hands. Now the moment is upon us where the high court will hear our argument and hopefully start returning our democracy to the people the way the founders intended." — Sachin Chheda, director of the Fair Elections Project and one of five citizens who came together in 2013 with the intention of filing a lawsuit and seeing a Supreme Court precedent set.

“Every voter should have a say so that all of our voices are heard. Voters want maps that will represent the full volume of the voice of Wisconsin, not one with partial volume.” — Shauntay Nelson, program manager at Wisconsin Voices, one of the key groups organizing the Wisconsin Fair Maps Coalition.

“The people of Wisconsin want fair representation. They don’t want the party that happens to be in power to be able to rig the maps so they stay in power indefinitely. That’s not the Wisconsin way.” — Anna Dvorak, lead organizer for Citizen Action of Wisconsin and a key leader of the coalition. 

“By creating an unprecedented number of 'safe districts,' in which one party is assured victory, the current Wisconsin voting maps have caused a serious breakdown of bipartisanship in the state legislature. The Supreme Court should end partisan gerrymandering in order to give every citizen’s vote equal weight. Then politicians will have to win elections by winning over the hearts and minds of the people, as they should.” — Andrea Kaminski, executive director of the Wisconsin League of Women Voters, a coalition member. 

“We believe the Whitford case is powerful and compelling but even the most favorable decision from the Supreme Court will not suffice on its own to secure fair election maps for the future. We still need new laws — or even a constitutional amendment — to ensure that we never again find our democracy sabotaged from within by those who so covet power that they would undermine the ability of the people to use their votes to hold elected officials accountable.” — Nancy Kaplan of Grassroots Northshore.

Editor's note: This will be updated.



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