We Wisconsin political watchers are used to having the Badger State’s redistricting fights end up in court. So used to it, in fact, that some form of court has played a role in the matter since 1931. What is surprising this time, is that redistricting has ended up in the U.S. Supreme Court. While much of the political world has their attention focused on Gill v. Whitford, the case which could decide the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering, the reality for most Wisconsinites is that the case is nothing but the culmination of decades of backdoor deals, partisan incumbents protecting their own, recall elections to try to overturn previous election results, more. In other words: Politics as usual.
To understand how Wisconsin got into this position, one must not only understand the circumstances around the 2011 round of redistricting, but the 2001 round as well. Simply put, 2001 set the table for 2011; whether Democrats who are pushing for “redistricting reform” wish to admit it or not.
Like many upper Midwest states, the 2000 Census was not kind to Wisconsin. Along with neighboring states Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, the Badger State found itself on the losing end of congressional reapportioning, seeing the number of seats it held in Congress fall from nine to eight.