Supreme Court rules against Wisconsin Democrats over legislative map; sidesteps gerrymandering ruling

NOW: Supreme Court rules against Wisconsin Democrats over legislative map; sidesteps gerrymandering ruling

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- In a unanimous vote, the U.S. Supreme Court voted against Wisconsin Democrats who argued that the current legislative district maps are unconstitutional.

“I don’t think it was unconstitutional gerrymandering,” Rick Esenberg, Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty President, said. “I think that any political party will try to draw the best possible maps that they can.”

Esenberg testified before the legislature that the Wisconsin maps are fair.

“The maps don’t look funny, they’re not oddly shaped,” he said. “They’re contiguous, they’re compact.”

Some Democrats disagree, arguing that the current Republican-drawn maps aren’t fair and give Republicans more representation in the legislature.

“Democracy is threatened,” State Representative Frederick Kessler, said. “The will of the voters is absolutely paramount in this issue and the Republicans in Wisconsin violated the will of the voters.”

In their decision Monday, The Supreme Court didn’t end up deciding on whether or not the maps exercised gerrymandering.

“My first reaction was that the Supreme Court punted because they didn't get to the merits of the case,” Esenberg said.

Instead, the Supreme Court says in order for them to weigh in Democrats to have to prove individual harm.

“You'd have to have a plaintiff in 99 Assembly Districts and 33 State Senate Districts each of them saying I, my vote, was disadvantaged because of the boundaries of my district and that's much much harder to do,” Mordecai Lee, UWM Political Professor, said.

Kessler helped the group of Democrats prepare their case. He has already drawn a new district map that he says will give Democrats fair representation. He says the Supreme Court’s decision wasn’t perfect, but still views it as a win because the court didn’t just dismiss the issue.

“They acknowledged that extreme partisan redistricting is an issue that can be litigated and we think that’s a major victory for us,” Kessler said.

The case will now get sent back down to District Court.


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is resolving partisan redistricting cases from Wisconsin and Maryland without ruling on the broader issue of whether electoral maps can give an unfair advantage to a political party.

The justices ruled against Wisconsin Democrats who challenged legislative districts that gave Republicans a huge edge in the state legislature. They also did not side with Maryland Republicans who objected to a single congressional district.

The court sidestepped a definitive ruling in both cases. It could decide soon to take up a new case from North Carolina.

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