The recent Supreme Court decision in the partisan gerrymandering cases in Maryland and North Carolina was disappointing. The courts had an opportunity to create a standard that does not allow for partisans of the states to “choose their voters” by creating skewed districts. Our own state has one of the worst gerrymandered state assembly maps.
The 5-4 ruling by the Supreme Court found that there is no way for courts to determine when partisan gerrymandering has gone too far. In the minority opinion, Justice Kagan wrote that she is “deeply saddened” by this ruling as she questions why the court would pass on making a ruling to protect the very foundations of our democracy, especially when there have been checks and protections put in place by the courts in the past. Yet Justice Roberts in his majority opinion stated that “excessive partisanship in districting leads to results that reasonably seem unjust,” while ruling that the undemocratic practice of gerrymandering, which has plagued our system for centuries, should be up to the states and voters to manage.
Yet there is hope. And this is where you play an important role.
Contact your state legislators and ask them to support the bills that effectively prevent gerrymandering and give us an independent, nonpartisan redistricting process. Sen. Dave Hansen (D - Green Bay) introduced SB 288, and Rep. Robyn Vining (D - Wauwatosa) introduced the identical bill in the assembly, AB 303. Ask your legislators to co-sponsor these SB 288 and AB 303 and to hold a public hearing on them.
Last week, Scott Milfred reported in the Wisconsin State Journal that three Republican lawmakers support the Iowa model for nonpartisan redistricting in Wisconsin: Rep. Todd Novak (R-Dodgeville), Rep. Travis Tranel, (R-Cuba City) and Rep. Jon Plumer, (R-Lodi). There is growing bipartisan support, and this week Rep. Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay) also became a co-sponsor of the bill.
There is hope. We will keep fighting. The bills introduced are the solution Wisconsin needs to prevent partisans from consolidating their own power. And our representatives are listening. You too should contact your legislators to thank them for their support or to encourage them to support the bills.
Decades of League education and advocacy by dedicated and determined members on this issue have exposed the problems with the current process and laid out a way for a better way to districting. Our democracy demands our attention and our engagement. The fight for fair maps is far from over. You can find your legislators and their contact information by entering your address here.
You can also reach your legislators by calling the Legislative Hotline. In Madison, dial 266-9960. Toll-free, call 1-800-362-9472.