Wisconsin Assembly district boundaries that Republicans drew up five years ago have robbed Democratic-leaning voters of their voices, attorneys argued Friday as they wrapped up a federal trial over whether the lines are constitutional. Gerald Hebert, an attorney for a group of voters who sued over the boundaries, told the panel that the boundaries represent the worst example of gerrymandering in modern history and punish Democrats and their supporters by diluting their voting strength. “Their right to vote is fundamental,” Hebert said during closing arguments. “It’s our voice in the government. It’s the only voice many of us have. It’s not right to target people and harm them because of their voting history. What did they do? They had the nerve to participate in the political process and go to the polls.”
Brian Keenan, a state Justice Department lawyer who is defending the boundaries, countered that the districts reflect that Wisconsin has been trending increasingly Republican. Partisanship is to be expected when one party draws legislative boundaries, he said, adding that there’s no way to legally measure partisan gerrymandering. “This is actually democracy,” Keenan said during his closing. “The Republicans won the 2010 election. The Constitution gives them the right to (draw district lines).”
Legislators redraw Senate and Assembly district boundaries every 10 years to reflect population shifts. The task was one of the first chores Republican lawmakers took on after they seized control of both houses and the governor’s office in November 2010, passing a bill less than a year later that reshaped the districts.
The voter group filed a lawsuit last summer alleging the Assembly boundaries marginalize Democrats by splitting their supporters across districts and consolidating Republican-leaning voters. Hebert said during closing arguments Friday that the plan reduced the number of swing districts from 19 to 10.
Full Article: Arguments conclude in redistricting case in federal court.