Federal Court Blocks WI Gerrymandered Districts But Now What?

Some transitory good news came out yesterday when a federal court voted 2 -1 to block the gerrymandered Wisconsin legislative districts.

Here is a synopsis:

A dozen voters sued in July 2015, arguing the maps unconstitutionally discriminated against Democrats by diluting their voting power. They called it the worst example of gerrymandering — a term for dividing districts to gain an unfair advantage — in modern history.

Attorneys for the state countered Wisconsin is trending Republican and argued there’s no legal way to measure gerrymandering. They added that partisanship should be expected when one party draws legislative boundaries.

Of course the GOP will appeal this to the US Supreme Court so nothing is going to happen in the short term…and the outcome may totally depend on who is sitting on the court given the Trump presidency.

But what should the Democrats in the state legislature be doing in the meantime? They should be drafting and presenting a bill that requires that future redistricting be handled by an independent agency with the consent of the legislature similar to provisions in Iowa. Something that seems to be going swimmingly in Iowa right now!

Will it fly in Wisconsin? Probably not…particularly given our recent experience with the destruction of the Government Accountability Board and the new better partisan election commission….the GOP will stop it dead in its tracks. But it should be brought up anyway…and the GOP made to defend their position once again in the light of day under the dome…and be forced to say they are against one person one vote and equal representation.

But that won’t happen either as the minority will just wimp out and hope the US Supreme Court saves their posteriors…


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24 thoughts on “Federal Court Blocks WI Gerrymandered Districts But Now What?

  1. First, I can’t believe that Barbara Crabb is still alive. Didn’t she represent the plaintiff in Moses vs Gomorrah?

    Second, the path from here is obvious. This split decision will be overturned in the SCOTUS. As District Judge William Griesbach wrote in his dissent, “The efficiency gap theory on which the Plaintiffs founded their case fatally relies on premises the courts have already rejected.”

    1. Technically a 2 – 1 decision is a “split,” decision in terms of it not being a unanimous decision, but here we are looking at a majority decision from this three judge panel. You’ve omitted mentioning commentary from learned legal scholars who have suggested that SCOTUS is and has been waiting for a valid theory to be created that could successfully be applied to determining real life consequences of gerrymandering and would likely to be willing to hear such a case and even accept the new theory as perfectly valid. This theory has that chance according to several sources.

      1. The majority has conceded that the lines were drawn with respect to traditional redistricting principles. Their beef seems to be that the Republicans had the intent to benefit themselves. From District Judge William Griesbach’s dissent, “Partisan intent is not illegal, but is simply the consequences of assigning the task of redistricting to the political branches of government, Given the fact that Republicans already enjoyed significant advantages under court-drawn districting plans then in effect, it should hardly surprise anyone that, when afforded the rare opportunity to draw their own maps, they extended their electoral advantage somewhat.”

        There is nothing egregious here. To paraphrase M.D. Kittle at Wisconsin Watchdog, the maps are contiguous, compact, and take into account the political subdivisions involved. Put simply, this split decision will be overturned.

  2. Is there a court case for that? Also, even if there is, I have a feeling past court cases may be thrown ignored as some members of this US Supreme Court have already done.

    Besides lighting can strike even the current bought and paid for WI Supreme Court didn’t bite on Schimel’s anti-John Doe whistleblower efforts. Though they did direct it to another state body run by a vested interest but still that shows something.

    If the WI Supreme Court can make a feint at following the law then maybe the US Supreme Court can actually decide that votes should matter.

    Also, while taking the time to complain about he minority in the state legislature has anyone here taken the time to write or call their state rep or state senator?

    If everyone here has then great. If not then call and encourage them-they and we certainly have a justifiable reason to.

  3. It seems to me our judicial system is or becoming hopelessly corrupted.

    When the basic premise of the Constitution guaranteeing the right to vote and equal justice is compromised or blatantly ignored, we are heading toward violence,a political dictatorship, and injustice. Prime examples are actions by McConnell to block Supreme court appointments, the incompetence and bias of a Prosser, and redistricting by a political party such as that in Wisconsin.

  4. WISCONSIN has simply learned that Dems policies have been a disaster for the state and the state is now wisely voting Republican. Has nothing to do with lines drawn by Dems or Reps!

    1. Haber, the current state of the State clearly does not have anything to do with lines drawn by Dems. They didn’t draw any of ’em. I wouldn’t go so far as to say the lines drawn by Reps had nothing to do with the majority they currently enjoy. Clearly it put the wind at their backs in a few cases, but I think you’re generally correct. The incompetence, thin bench, poor messaging, and poor messenger doomed the Dems this time around. Happy Thanksgiving All!

      1. What “thin bench”? Plenty of new Dems ran this cycle, and none managed to get more than 38-40% of the vote, despite running good campaigns.

        1. GuyFromWI, “thin bench” can refer to either quantity or quality. A strong candidate that runs a good campaign gets elected. Weak ones get 38-40% of the vote, despite running good campaigns.

          1. The ones I saw ran great campaigns, worked hard, but couldn’t make a dent. Tons of GOTV effort, signage in good locations, lit drops, etc.

            Examples I would cite would be Christine Welcher, Brandon White, and Scott Michalak. Some of their GOP incumbent opponents literally didn’t campaign at all (Tyler August is a prime example), but still won easily. Is that how it should be?

            Another example would be George Ferriter. I believe this was his third time running…he managed to get 40%, which is better than the three I cited above.

            1. Compare any of the three candidates you cited with Congressman elect Michael Gallagher. More specifically, look at the list of accomplishments. Granted there is a difference between national office and state positions, but take a close look at the resume of the newest Rep from the 8th District and know the definition of a strong candidate.

              1. You’re not going to get that type of person to run for state level office right now. The person with that level of experience is looking at Washington, not Madison. Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional.

                Candidate recruitment is really freaking hard. A lot harder than most of the “do this, do that; I’m not a party member, but…” crowd cares to admit. I have been part of it the past couple cycles…we barely got anyone to run in my home district…basically lucked into it.

                We had a candidate that “checked off all the boxes” as far as what a good local assembly candidate is. Campaigned hard, got signs in good locations (his opponent barely had any in our area), fundraised way more money than expected. He did four mailers and local radio ads, in addition to a lot of GOTV activity. He still only got 38% of the vote.

                Go ahead…try helping with candidate recruitment and see how it goes. The state doesn’t have much to do with it, so it’s up to us local people to do our best. Now, in good conscience, I don’t think I can ask anyone to run for assembly again. It has been shown to be an exercise in complete and utter futility to me.

                1. Thank you for your efforts.

                  If everything you said about those recently lost races is true it at least proved that the GOP isn’t winning on its merits.

                  Also if the maps are redrawn it may give the same candidates practice for running again in what actually may be a free and fair election.

              2. Instead of demanding someone else come up with a response for you to then claim is wrong in their analyses and knock apart, tell us yourself how you think Gallagher was in any way a superior candidate to Tom Nelson or any three other candidates. You can’t.

                Nobody should be required to do what you claim is necessary to be done, when you won’t do the same thing, as you contiunue to troll this thread, offering NO facts to back anything you write.

                Your credibility here was immediately flushed down the toilet where it belongs when you started out bashing someone for being “elderly,” in your low estimation of personal worth for a judge.

                1. In this sub thread, I’ve implied that the 2016 election results are more a function of the quality of the candidates running than any imagined gerrymandering, then go on to link to the amazing bio of the Republican congressman elect to back my argument. I’ve also quoted Federal judges and rulings in other replies. nonquixote, to state I’ve offered “NO facts” forces me to question your reading comprehension or your grip on reality. The old nonquixote had a knack for finding and pointing out the weakest part of the arguments I’d make, forcing me to either refine or concede a point. I’ve come to have a begrudging respect for you. Had respect…nonquixote 2.0 is just sad and disappointing.

                  1. As you perceive gerrymandering has nothing to do with election results, you obviously shouldn’t have any objection to a non-partisan board similar to that in place in Iowa to redraw the district lines fairly.

                    Also, citing a candidate’s biography (with no prior track record of legislative governance, and completely ignoring the effects of citizen’s united or WI election campaign coordination issues) proves nothing but distraction from the topic of gerrymander and you still refuse to comment on what part of that, “amazing,” biography most impresses you.

                    Maybe it was Gallagher’s intelligence community stint where they failed to notice “nefarious,” activity in Benghazi before the unfortunate incident blamed on Clinton, happened, while he stated he was on watch.

                    Fortunately another legal test of gerrymandering is likely in the works. I like the court ordered remedy. New elections under a re-drawn map, within a year. Nice to understand that you will support that kind of ruling in WI.


                    And I’m certainly not contributing to this blog to attempt to gain your respect. Appears to be another fantasy, like so many others you provide for readers here.

                    1. So how do you interpret my statement “Clearly it put the wind at their backs [Republicans] in a few cases” as me perceiving “gerrymandering has nothing to do with election results.”? You really need to work on your reading comprehension skills.

    2. There’s some nonsense.

      The 2012 election results showed Democratic candidates winning statewide plus a majority (that is above 50%) of the votes candidates for State Assembly went to Democratic candidates.

      That Republicans received 60 out of 99 seats in the State Assembly after such an election shows Republicans were successful in rigging elections via gerrymandering.

      That you claimed the state was simply voting republican shows you weren’t paying attention and that you claimed doing so would be wise seems to double down on partisanship and-when the results of this state government are examined-ignorance.

      Not only has the GOP showed it can consolidate power in Wisconsin but that it has power the GOP has repeatedly used it badly, corruptly, or both.

      1. pplr, cherry picking a date is some nonsense. Vote totals from historically progressive districts, most notably Milwaukee and Dane counties, were higher due to a stronger national presidential candidate and a stronger senatorial race (A woman vs A bloated, gas bag if I remember right) in 2012. How did the Democratic candidates do in 2010, 2014, and 2016? Answer: Below 50%.

        1. Nemo, it was the 1st and 1 of a total of 2 presidential elections including this year held post gerrymander.

          1. I’ll take that Obama is and was a stronger candidate than Hillary but picking one of the few presidential election days is hardly cherry picking when there are so few elections of that nature in the per decade in the 1st place.

          2. Even if I go with your pointing out Dane and Milwaukee Counties, they are the highest in terms of population in the state. Since the State Legislature is done, rightfully, by population that they should have an impact.

          3. You pointed to 2010, 2014, and 2016. The 3 elections have 1 thing in common. Lower levels of voter participation. Thanks for giving credibility to the notion elections can turn on turnout.

          4. If Republicans running for State Assembly got more than 50% of the vote (I’ll admit to not knowing) in each of 2010, 2014, and 2016. Then they arguably were rightfully elected-is that what you were saying by pointing to Democrats getting below 50%? But we do know for sure they didn’t in 2012.

          That means there more of a reason to question if they were rightfully elected. Like I said, if the GOP candidates got more votes in 2014 then they arguably should get the State Assembly. However this could mean, and likely does, that the State Assembly should have flipped to GOP control from Democratic control in 2014. Since Democrats weren’t in control of the State Assembly, and weren’t in control by a bizarre level-such as 60 out of 99 seats-that really raises red flags.

          And Nemo, thanks for mentioning the propaganda people known as Wisconsin Watchdog. It says a lot about about where you get your info from. Should I be expecting an update from the John Birch Society?

          1. Pplr, your point three gives me hope that we have some common ground. Turnout is everything. You can’t blame the opposition if the top of your ticket or the policies your party pursues makes progressives shrug and mutter, “Meh”.

            Progressives can look to the courts to address this perceived injustice where they will lose time, treasure, and appeals or they might try winning a statewide election that would enable the minority party to have a voice in the 2020 re-redistricting plan. If I were you, I’d start by not running Tom Barret again.

            1. I think there’s a general consensus among folks that we absolutely can’t have more retreads like Barrett, Feingold, etc running for prominent state offices.

              Further, I think there’s also a consensus that Dane and Milwaukee counties have had their turns at running candidates, and we need a gubernatorial candidate from a different part of the state…preferably someone with bonafide blue collar credentials.

            2. Actually if Barrett, of all people to mention, had been governor then gerrymandering wouldn’t be a problem in Wisconsin.

              It is one of those historical what ifs as he supported a non-partisan commission doing redistricting when he ran for governor earlier.

              On the Presidential election..

              While Sanders was certainly more inspiring than Hillary in the primary I would point out that Trump encouraged a lack of motivation on the part of people who may otherwise vote for her.

              So yes some of the blame can be put on the top of the other ticket for negative campaigning.

              More inspirational figures could help blunt negative campaigning but the GOP certainly does negative campaigning and did jump at some of the chances they had with Clinton.

              Also, as more people voted for Clinton than Trump I would disagree with claiming Democrats are the “minority party”.

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