Campaign Legal Center (CLC), Law Forward, Inc. and Stafford Rosenbaum LLP filed suit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin on Aug. 23, 2021 on behalf of nonpartisan groups and individual voters challenging Wisconsin’s state legislative map, which the 2020 census has revealed to have unequally populated districts.
The lawsuit urges the court to implement new, rightly apportioned and fair maps before the next election to protect the constitutional rights of Wisconsin’s voters.
The August 12 data release by the Census Bureau revealed a population gain of 199,243 residents for Wisconsin in the past decade, with the population of existing districts now out of balance.
In addition to now being malapportioned, Wisconsin’s current maps are among the most gerrymandered in our country. These are the maps that CLC brought before the U.S. Supreme Court in the 2017 case Gill v. Whitford.
While this new case is not a partisan gerrymandering claim, one of CLC’s goals is to get the court to draw a fair map that is not gerrymandered and reflects the political makeup of the Wisconsin electorate.
In an environment conducive to good map drawing, the Wisconsin government itself would draw new maps that accurately reflect the population and don’t advantage one party over another.
Unfortunately, in each of the previous four decades, when control over Wisconsin’s state government has been divided between members of the two parties, the legislature and governor have been unbale to draw maps.
In the most recent round in 2011, one party controlled the process, but the maps were twice subject to litigation – including in Gill.
In 2021 again, it is all but certain there will be an impasse with the governor vetoing the legislative map. The court will therefore have to draw the map.
The plaintiffs in the suit include three individual voters and the nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations – Black Leaders Organizing for Communities, Voces de la Frontera and the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin – with members whose voting power is weakened because they live in districts that are now overpopulated.
They seek new state legislative maps that reflect Wisconsin’s population shifts over the past decade and comply with federal and state law.
It is imperative that the data from the 2020 census is transformed into maps that accurately represent the people of Wisconsin. Wisconsin’s current state assembly district map is one of the most egregious gerrymanders ever seen, and the court should ensure that this decade’s maps are fair and treat all Wisconsin voters equally.
State legislators must draw fair maps that represent everyone – no matter their race, background, zip code, or income – to ensure a representative government. The people of Wisconsin should be able to live under maps where voters choose their leaders, not the other way around.