Amended Whitford Complaint Highlights Harm Caused by Wisconsin’s Partisan Gerrymander to 40 Plaintiffs Across 34 Districts


It’s time for the courts to stop hesitating and start protecting the fundamental right to vote from the harms of gerrymandering

MADISON – Today, Campaign Legal Center (CLC), along with co-counsel, filed an amended complaint challenging Wisconsin’s 2011 state assembly map as a partisan gerrymander in the U.S. District Court in Wisconsin. CLC and co-counsel, representing voters in 34 state legislative districts, have followed instructions provided by Chief Justice John Roberts in the Supreme Court’s opinion in June when it declined to address the merits of the lower court’s decision. CLC and co-counsel have added 28 new plaintiffs and evidence proving that the state’s redistricting plan inflicted district-specific harm on plaintiffs by diluting their votes, as well as infringing all 40 plaintiffs’ associational rights.

The amended complaint includes additional evidence about district-specific harm to make it clear that plaintiffs with 14th Amendment claims have standing to challenge their district boundaries as diluting their vote, and that plaintiffs with claims under the First Amendment have standing to challenge the whole map because their political association rights have been violated.

“It’s time for the courts to stop hesitating and start protecting the fundamental right to vote from the harms caused by the distortions of gerrymandering,” said Paul Smith, vice president of litigation and strategy at CLC, who argued Gill v. Whitford before the Supreme Court in October. “Partisan politicians met in secret in 2011 to manipulate state assembly district lines to ensure Republican control over Wisconsin for the next decade, regardless of how the votes were cast. We are asking for a trial date early in 2019, so we can fight to give voters fair maps for the 2020 election.”

“The voters of Wisconsin have had to vote under an unconstitutional map for far too long,” said University of Wisconsin-Madison law professor Bill Whitford, the named plaintiff in the case. “We followed the Supreme Court’s roadmap and entered additional evidence into the record that strengthened our case, showing real harms to voters caused by lawmakers who chose their own partisan self-interest over the good of the state. We hope to return to the Supreme Court as soon as possible.”

“Extreme partisan gerrymandering has thrown the balance off in this state and made it harder for us to have equal representation in our communities,” said immigrants’ rights organizer Jennifer Estrada of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, a newly added plaintiff in the case. “I’ve seen so many policies that the Wisconsin legislature has put forth – since their 2011 redistricting plan – that have been detrimental to working families. The only options to respond were to sit back and complain or get involved, so I joined the case because I wanted to help give people a voice in the political process by fighting back against the practice of partisan gerrymandering. It’s really sad that our own representatives put in place roadblocks like gerrymandering that prevent people from feeling like they have a voice and that their vote counts.”

  • Learn more about the bipartisan effort to curb the practice of partisan gerrymandering nationwide
  • View the results of the first-ever bipartisan survey on partisan gerrymandering and the Supreme Court
  • Visit CLC’s case page to see all legal filings in the case, Gill v. Whitford

*Private counsel working with CLC in representing the plaintiffs includes Douglas M. Poland of Rathje & Woodward, Peter G. Earle of the Law Office of Peter G. Earle, LLC, Michele L. Odorizzi of Mayer Brown, Nicholas O. Stephanopoulos of the University of Chicago Law School and Jessica R. Amunson of Jenner & Block.