Wisconsinites No Longer Faced With Unconstitutional “Swiss Cheese” Maps

The dome of the Wisconsin capitol building next to its own reflection in the glass windows of an office building
The state capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin. Photo by YinYang

After more than a decade of noncontiguous, gerrymandered maps, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the state’s legislative maps as unconstitutional — a win for Wisconsinites and for our democracy. 

The ruling comes after a lawsuit was filed by Campaign Legal Center (CLC), in partnership with Law Forward, the Election Law Clinic at Harvard Law School, Stafford Rosenbaum LLP, and Arnold & Porter, on behalf of 19 Wisconsin voters from across the state who have had their voices silenced by the maps. 

The Wisconsin constitution requires that districts be contiguous — a redistricting law that requires all parts of a district be touching each other — yet over two-thirds of Wisconsinites are living in either noncontiguous senate or assembly districts. Some live in detached bits of territory miles away from the rest of their district. 

When districts are drawn in a way that “cracks” communities and displaces voters — a practice of carving up voters to dilute their voting power — it almost guarantees that their interests will not be represented, and their voices won’t be heard. The failure of the Wisconsin Legislature to draw contiguous districts underscores the detriment of politicians choosing voters, when it should be the other way around

“When voters go and vote, the maps should reflect how they voted,” said Mark Gaber, senior director of redistricting at Campaign Legal Center, during oral argument. 

Wisconsin’s state legislative maps have been among the most gerrymandered in the country for over a decade. The court’s decision to strike down these maps is a long-awaited victory for Wisconsinites' freedom to vote. 

The legislature will now have an opportunity to adopt new, constitutional maps. 

In order to have maps in time for the 2024 election, the court will also move forward in the meantime, and accept proposals from the parties. The court appointed Drs. Bernard Grofman and Jonathan Cervas to evaluate the parties' proposals and prepare maps, if necessary. The court also ordered that any map it adopts must follow all legal requirements, including not advantaging one political party over the other.  

Thanks to this lawsuit and tireless advocacy, this decision ensures that Wisconsin voters will have the opportunity to vote under fair maps. 

Emma Krug is a Communications Assistant at CLC.