Court says hands-off on gerrymandering

It is a typically biased CNN headline: “Supreme Court allows severe partisan gerrymandering to continue.” 

The case was brought out of North Carolina but has to be a crushing blow to Democrats and their allies (such as the League of Women Voters and Common Cause) here in Wisconsin.

The court last June remanded a case emanating from Wisconsin, ruling the original appellants lacked standing. Even then, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote “This Court is not responsible for vindicating generalized partisan preferences,” in a 9-0 decision. 

In today’s (06-27-19) case, the chief justice properly stated that the courts cannot provide a judicial remedy because (we’re condensing here) it would open a pandora’s box, can of worms — whatever your dystopian analogy — of courts applying slide rules to legislative redistricting.

We have pointed out that Democrats concentrate themselves in places like Madison. One cannot spread out the Democrat(ic) vote in Madison without drawing districts that would snake out along the median strip of Highway 151 to claim some of Dodge County. And to the west, even in Iowa County, still more Democrats.

After Wisconsin elected a Democrat as governor in November 2018 and returned a decidedly Republican legislature, the Wisconsin State Journal whined “Mostly the Republicans’ big advantage in the Legislature is the result of cheating.”

Tenth DistrictWe wrote then: Democrats ran unopposed in 22 more districts — largely in Milwaukee — for a total of 30 Democrats without a Republican opponent. Meaning that Republicans in almost one-third of the 99 Assembly districts received exactly zero votes. None, nada, 0.00. 

Some Republicans also got a free ride but not nearly as many. Only 8 Republicans were unopposed. For those of us who were not math majors, that’s a difference of 22 more Democrats unopposed than Republicans.

Political allegiances change

We also note that Democrats won the 10 state senate seat in NW Wisconsin in January 2018 by 54-44% for a seat that had been Republican for 17 years, that went for retiring Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (appointed state ag secretary) with 63% in 2016, that Trump carried 55% to 38%.

Consider also that one-third of Wisconsin’s counties voted for Barack Obama twice and then for Donald Trump. 

The courts have consistently ruled that district must be nearly exactly the same population, must be compact, and must not unduly separate communities. Special allowances are made to assure at least one minority-race majority district. Attempting to draw districts to assure uniform political affiliation is a fool’s game.

“Federal judges have no license to reallocate political power between the two major political parties, with no plausible grant of authority in the Constitution, and no legal standards to limit and direct their decisions,” Roberts wrote.

Blaska’s Bottom LineIn any event, Gov. Tony Evers can veto the next legislative redraw.

About David Blaska

Madison WI
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2 Responses to Court says hands-off on gerrymandering

  1. madisonexpat says:

    Its only gerrymandering when the OTHER party does it. Otherwise it’s just redistricting.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. old baldy says:

    “must be compact”….

    Realizing that some parts of WI are sparsely populated, don’t you think the 17th, 23rd, 29th could be a little less of a geographers nightmare?


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