In a stunning victory for democracy, a federal court has overturned Wisconsin’s legislative district maps, ruling that Republicans wrote the maps to entrench themselves into power. The court said the maps are unconstitutional and must be replaced.
Despite being a 50/50 political state, Republicans have granted themselves overwhelming majorities in the legislature, even in elections where they receive many fewer votes. The ruling in Whitford v Gill is the first time a federal court has overturned a map for being overly partisan, highlighting the egregious nature of the map.
“I’m very pleased with this decision,” said Bill Whitford, the lead plaintiff. “It is truly historic. As a lifelong Democrat, the court’s decision recognizes the power of my voice and the voices of all other Democrats across the state. This decision could have a monumental impact in ensuring that voters’ voices are heard across the nation, regardless of party. I want fair elections, where the voters have the power, not a gerrymander for either side created by self-interested politicians. That’s what today’s decision is all about.”
The case was brought by 12 Democratic plaintiffs who are all citizens of Wisconsin, and was organized and launched by the bipartisan Wisconsin Fair Elections Project. The Fair Elections Project is under the same nonprofit umbrella as the Wisconsin Independent.
The court pointed to an overly secretive and partisan process and mocked Republican staff’s insistence the map was not drawn for partisan reasons. Even the dissenting judge said the Republicans’ position in the case could not be believed.
“Today is a historic day and I am thrilled with the result not only for our plaintiffs, but for all Wisconsin voters,” said lead trial attorney Peter Earle. “This decision will finally give voters in Wisconsin the power they deserve to shape their democracy. Now a fairer system will be created here in Wisconsin so all voters, not just a select few, will be able to have their voices heard.”
The court did not impose a remedy, and asked lawyers on both sides to suggest next steps in the creation of new district maps for Wisconsin.
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