This is great news for anyone who wants to see fair elections in our state.
A lawsuit filed by Democrats challenging Wisconsin’s 2010 political map reached a small milestone recently when it filed a rebuttal to state Republicans’ motion to dismiss the case. The Democrats also learned the names of the appeals court justices who would hear their case — known as Whitford v. Nichols — if it moves forward.
Sachin Chheda, director of the Wisconsin Fair Elections project, fully expects the case to get a hearing later this fall by an appeals court panel of three judges. The side that losses will probably appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has never ruled in a case challenging a political map due to overt partisanship, as this case does, Chheda said.
In the past, the U.S. Supreme Court has found maps unconstitutional for being drawn in a way that discriminated against minority voters or failed to uphold the principle of “one-person-one-vote.”
“We think we have a strong case (and) we hope to get passed the motion to dismiss and get to the trial stage so we can have a full examination of the issues,” he said. “We’re trying to establish a new Constitutional standing. The Supreme Court has said that there could be an instance in which a map is too partisan to be constitutional. They’ve never had a measurement by which they can make this judgment. We’re proposing that measurement.”
Chheda is hopeful that a fair and politically neutral map will be in place in time for the presidential election in November 2016.
I’ve been a proponent of nonpartisan legislative redistricting similar to what’s used in the state of Iowa, because it’s a model that makes a heck of a lot of sense.
In a locked windowless chamber across the street from the Iowa State House, three bureaucrats sequester themselves for 45 days every decade after census data is released. Their top-secret task: the “redistricting” of the state’s legislative and congressional boundaries.
But here, unlike in most other states, every care is taken to ensure the process is not political.
The mapmakers are not allowed to consider previous election results, voter registration, or even the addresses of incumbent members of Congress. No politician — not the governor, the House speaker, or Senate majority leader — is allowed to weigh in, or get a sneak preview.
I’d love to see Wisconsin implement a nonpartisan legislative redistricting system similar to Iowa’s, but I’d also like to see it as an amendment to Wisconsin’s state constitution.