Yesterday, 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 behalf nonpartisan groups and individual voters challenging Wisconsin’s state legislative map, which the 2020 Census has revealed to have unequally populated districts. The suit asks the court to strike down the current maps as unconstitutional and implement new maps that do not violate the rights of voters, given the likelihood the legislature and governor are unable to agree on new maps.
Plaintiffs in the suit are nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations with members whose voting power is weakened because they live in districts that are now overpopulated. Black Leaders Organizing for Communities, Voces de la Frontera and the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, along with three individual voters seek new state legislative maps that reflect Wisconsin’s population shifts over the past decade and comply with federal and state law. 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.
“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," said Paul Smith, vice president at Campaign Legal Center (CLC).
“As we have experienced first-hand in Wisconsin since the Legislature gerrymandered districts in 2011 to entrench the control of one political party for an entire decade, the redistricting process cuts to the heart of our democratic form of government," added Doug Poland, Law Forward’s Litigation Director. "All Wisconsin voters deserve to have their voices reflected in our state government. Our Legislature and the policy choices they make should reflect the will of the people, not what a minority of legislators want for us. The Census data demonstrates that Wisconsin’s current maps are now unconstitutional. If the Legislature won’t follow a process to ensure that new districts are constitutional and fair, the Court must act to protect voters.”
“The Black community has had to fight constant challenges including our voices to be heard in our democracy,” said Angela Lang, executive director of BLOC. “We know how important the redistricting process is and we need to make sure our community is represented. In order to have a true democracy we need to have a fair process that includes everyone.”
“It is imperative that the Census 2020 data is transformed into fair, nonpartisan maps” says Debra Cronmiller, League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Executive Director. “Our legislators must draw fair maps that represent everyone – no matter their race, background, zip code, or income – to ensure a representative government. For over 100 years the League has defended voters, and the fight for fair maps is an extension of that mission. We are proud to stand with our partners in this important fight.”
In each of the past four decades when control over Wisconsin’s government has been divided between members of the Republican and Democratic Parties (as it is now), the legislature and governor have failed to reach a compromise, requiring a federal court to step in and implement new state legislative district plans.