ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief arguing gerrymandering scheme is unconstitutional

Story Date: 
Oct 2, 2017

Wisconsin Gerrymandering Case Going Before the U.S. Supreme Court

ACLU of Wisconsin filed a friend-of-the-court brief arguing gerrymandering scheme is unconstitutional 

On Tuesday, October 3rd 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.

In a case that is expected to have sweeping implications for American democracy, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Wisconsin filed a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that Wisconsin’s extreme partisan gerrymandering scheme violates the Constitution by manipulating the outcome of elections and entrenching the political power of the incumbent party against the will of the voters.

“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,” said Chris Ott, the Executive Director of the ACLU of Wisconsin. “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.”

“Wisconsin’s extreme partisan gerrymandering system thwarts the will of the voters, weakens our democracy, and violates the First Amendment,” said 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.  “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.”

Redistricting is the process of redrawing the lines of districts from which public officials are elected. Gerrymandering is when the lines are drawn to manipulate the boundaries to predetermine the outcome of elections, which hinders voters from voicing their interests through their votes.

In Wisconsin the redistricting processes has devolved into an anti-democratic procedure where politicians essentially decide who they want their voters to be. Using demographic models and projections of voting patterns calculated down to the neighborhood-level, districts can be drawn in such a way so as to virtually guarantee an electoral outcome. For example, in 2012 Democratic candidates for the state assembly won 53 percent of the vote, but won only 39 of the 99 seats.

Find the brief here:  https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/gill-v-whitford-amicus-brief

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