A group of Democratic plaintiffs is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a ruling that struck down Wisconsin’s Republican-drawn legislative map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. In a brief to the court, plaintiffs wrote that Wisconsin remains sharply divided politically, with a Democratic president winning the state in 2012 and a Republican winning in 2016. Similarly, they wrote, Wisconsin is represented in the U.S. Senate by one Democrat and one Republican. But the state Legislature is a different story, where Republicans won 60 out of 99 Assembly seats in 2012 despite losing the popular vote and grew their majority to 64 seats in 2016, even as the statewide vote remained nearly tied. “Republicans thus wield legislative power unearned by their actual appeal to Wisconsin’s voters,” the plaintiffs told the court.
A panel of federal judges overturned Wisconsin’s legislative map late last year, ruling the map was intended to burden the rights of Democratic voters by impeding their ability to translate votes to legislative seats. The court issued a separate order in January, directing the Legislature to redraw Wisconsin’s map by Nov. 1 so it would be ready in time for the November 2018 general election.
Without the lower court’s ruling, plaintiffs wrote Wisconsin’s map would have continued to skew control of the state Legislature in Republicans’ favor, even if Democrats turned out in record numbers to vote.