Wisconsin Case Will Make National News In 2018

Jan 9, 2018

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Wisconsin News Connection is here.

MADISON, Wis. -- A Supreme Court decision expected this spring will likely impact the way every state draws its political boundaries.

The case, Gill v. Whitford, is concerned with the way Wisconsin Republicans drew the state's political map in 2011. The process of drawing the maps, done by outside consultants and lawyers, was done in complete secrecy, and resulted in an overwhelming Republican advantage at the polls.

A panel of three federal judges ruled 2-1 that the Republicans were unfair, and the case wound up in the Supreme Court. Jay Heck is executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin. He said the result of the gerrymandering is the opposite of what should be happening. "Elected representatives at the state and federal level should be selected by the voters," Heck said; "not the way we have it now where the elected representatives select their voters through the process of drawing the district lines."

Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the Wisconsin mapmakers "drew and rejected maps until they came up with one that maximized Republican chances, and then it succeeded beyond their expectations." A few months ago, the Supreme Court added a Maryland gerrymandering case to the Wisconsin case.

"The Wisconsin case was a Republican gerrymander, one of the most partisan gerrymanders in the country in the last 50 years," Heck said. "And the U.S. Supreme Court just decided to add the state of Maryland, which was a Democratic gerrymander of a Congressional district there." Heck said he believes the Maryland case was added to the Wisconsin case for a specific reason. "Because they want their decision, when they make one - hopefully in March or April of this year, of 2018 - would be so that it doesn't appear that they're favoring Republicans or Democrats, but they're going after both," he explained.

If the Supreme Court rules the political maps unconstitutional, it will affect nearly every other state, and will force Wisconsin to redraw its political boundaries in a more fair manner.