Caitlin McKown/UW Applied Population Lab

Series: Gerrymandering, Wisconsin And The Courts

It's an unsavory truth in American democracy that politicians, to some extent, do get to choose their voters. The party in power often tries to draw state legislative and U.S. House of Representatives district maps to its own advantage, and courts have been reluctant to stop it unless there's strong evidence of racial discrimination. The Republican wave of election victories in 2010, and the increasing sophistication of redistricting software set the stage for an aggressive new batch of legislative maps in Wisconsin and other states. Multiple federal lawsuits challenging this redistricting followed. One court challenge arising from Wisconsin, Gill v. Whitford, set out to prove that partisan gerrymandering could violate voters' rights even if it wasn't racially discriminatory. The case reached the U. S. Supreme Court, and the resulting decision could trigger a seismic change in how political parties consolidate electoral power.
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The conservative group Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty is trying to get a jump on the next round of legislative redistricting, proposing a rule change that would require that any lawsuit over political maps run through the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
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PBS Wisconsin
In his 2020 State of the State address, Gov. Tony Evers laid out plans for a nonpartisan redistricting commission for Wisconsin. UW-Madison political science professor Ken Mayer discusses what a "People's Map Commission" on redistricting can achieve.
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The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal courts must stay out of cases involving partisan gerrymandering. UW-Madison political science professor and Elections Research Center director Barry Burden discusses what the decision means for Gill v. Whitford .
When the Supreme Court of the United States returned a closely-followed case on redistricting in Wisconsin to a lower court, the majority's decision suggested that they did not completely accept a specific metric of gerrymandering known as the efficiency gap.
The U.S. Supreme Court handed down a non-decision on Wisconsin's gerrymandering case, Gill v. Whitford , referring it to a lower court to sort through a technicality.
Wisconsin is at the center of Gill v. Whitford , a lawsuit related to legislative redistricting heard by United States Supreme Court in October 2017. Malia Jones of the University of Wisconsin Applied Population Laboratory discusses how partisan gerrymandering works.
At a glance, Wisconsin's legislative district maps in place since 2011 do not reveal districts with the bizarre shapes and outlines that are classic markers of gerrymandering schemes. But a closer examination of the state's Assembly districts reveals a more sophisticated approach to this electoral stratagem.
Prior to 2011, Milwaukee-area residents Marla Stephens and Kris Lennon felt that their votes counted. Now, however, they say the impact of their votes is diminished due to Wisconsin's 2011 redistricting — which is under challenge in a U.S. Supreme Court case.
No matter which way the U.S. Supreme Court decides, change could be coming to Wisconsin's partisan system for redrawing electoral districts.
The arguments driving a potentially landmark court case over partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin may already be outdated.