As reported on Thursday by the voting rights organization known as Democracy Docket, “a three-judge panel for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin allowed two cases suing for fair maps in Wisconsin to move forward, consolidating the suits as litigation continues.” The cases were both filed in the wake of the recent release of data from the 2020 census, with both cases arguing that the new data reveals Wisconsin’s current legislative district maps to no longer appropriately reflect the state population’s distribution. Thus, those behind the proceedings are hoping to get the court to stop the use of the current district lines in future elections while the post-census redistricting process unfolds.
🚨BREAKING: Wisconsin Federal Court REJECTS Republican Legislature's motion to dismiss our redistricting lawsuit!https://t.co/mXukahHg1N
— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) September 16, 2021
As Democracy Docket puts it, “given the high likelihood that new maps will not be passed in time for the 2022 elections due to partisan gridlock in the state, the suits ask that the District Court step in and implement new maps that fairly and constitutionally represent Wisconsin’s current population if the state Legislature is unable to do so.” Whether legislative district lines appropriately reflect the distribution and make-up of a population can have far-reaching ramifications. If such lines don’t effectively reflect the people who live in certain areas, then smaller groups that find themselves in the majority in more districts than would be proportionate to their portion of the general population can suddenly have more sway. Such a scenario undercuts the overall will of the people.
In allowing the cases in question to move forward (and consolidating them in the process), the federal appeals court handling this matter denied two motions to dismiss the redistricting-related proceedings in Wisconsin. Going forward, besides the issues posed by the current district maps in Wisconsin, there’s also the possibility in Wisconsin and elsewhere that Republicans in power could opt to push for district lines that unfairly favor their own base. Republican voters, for instance, could be put in the majority in as many districts as possible, which would obviously impede the effective functioning of basic democracy across the United States.