Supreme Court Shuts Down GOP Gerrymandering In Wisconsin


The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a Republican attempt to block new Congressional district lines in Wisconsin that Democratic leaders in the state supported — although the court, CNN notes, “gave no explanation for their decision not to intervene in the matter.” The Congressional district map had been previously approved by a majority of Justices on the Wisconsin state Supreme Court, and Republican members of Congress stood behind the subsequent push for the U.S. Supreme Court to block that map. Ridiculously, The New York Times explains that the Republican side complained that the approved Congressional map ‘deviated from perfect population equality by including districts with 736,714 people, 736,715 people and 736,716 people even though the “mathematically ideal” district would contain 736,714.75 people.’ Where are officials going to get 75 percent of a person? Obviously, those numbers are reasonably close.

According to the Times summary, the Republican side also complained that the Wisconsin state Supreme Court previously “indicated, according to the congressmen, that it would consider not only so-called core retention, a measure of voters who remained in their prior districts, but also whether new maps avoided splitting counties, municipalities and communities of interest.” But, they allege, the court eventually “swapped its holistic least-change approach, which approach was to take account of multiple factors, for a core-retention-maximization-only standard that looked exclusively to the core-retention scores.” The map backed by Democrats including Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, which the Wisconsin state Supreme Court approved, had a higher so-called core retention level, keeping more voters in their previous districts (although not by a lot compared to the GOP map).

Evers’s side insisted “it takes true chutzpah for petitioners to complain about a supposed bait-and-switch… They urged the Wisconsin Supreme Court to adopt a least-change approach that would ‘maximize core retention’; now they insist that the court violated their due process clause rights by prioritizing core retention.” (CNN also tied these arguments to the Congressional district fight, which is relevant since the U.S. Supreme Court sided with Republicans in a Wisconsin state legislative district stand-off. Another website made the same connection.) The Elias Law Group — associated with voting rights lawyer Marc Elias — praised the Supreme Court’s decision not to intervene in the Congressional district matter. Abha Khanna, a partner at the firm, said: “We are pleased that the Supreme Court rejected Republican efforts to undo the congressional map adopted by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. We will continue to fight for fair and legal legislative maps in Wisconsin and around the country.”

Court stand-offs over redistricting are continuing around the country. In certain areas, Republican efforts that manipulate the process to serve their political ends have been particularly egregious. In Kansas, for instance, Republican state officials — over the objection of Democratic Governor Laura Kelly — split the state’s most racially and ethnically diverse county into more than one Congressional district for the first time in decades. And in Ohio, the state Supreme Court recently sent the state redistricting commission back to the metaphorical drawing board once again, delivering a third rejection of proposed state legislative district maps. The latest rejection apparently means the state won’t be able to have primary elections according to a previously hoped for timetable.