More good news in bad times: a blow to gerrymandering in Wisconsin

And possibly everywhere in the U.S.

The Brennan Center lays it all out:

A three-judge panel in the U.S. District Court in Wisconsin issued a ruling in Whitford v. Gill, holding that Wisconsin’s 2011 state assembly redistricting plan violated both the First and the Fourteenth Amendments.

Source: A Big Win Against Partisan Gerrymandering in Wisconsin | Brennan Center for Justice

As does the Times:

A federal panel called the 2011 redrawing of Wisconsin Assembly districts an unconstitutional gerrymander, ruling in a case that could go to the Supreme Court.

Source: Judges Find Wisconsin Redistricting Unfairly Favored Republicans – The New York Times

It has to do with a mathematical formula easy to calculate and clear enough for judges–especially Anthony Kennedy–to see.

I’ve bolded some of the more exciting sentences.

Federal courts have struck down gerrymanders on racial grounds, but not on grounds that they unfairly give advantage to a political party — the more common form of gerrymandering. The case could now go directly to the Supreme Court, where its fate may rest with a single justice, Anthony M. Kennedy, who has expressed a willingness to strike down partisan gerrymanders but has yet to accept a rationale for it.

Should the court affirm the ruling, it could upend the next round of state redistricting, in 2021, for congressional and state elections nationwide, most of which is likely to be conducted by Republican-controlled legislatures that have swept into power in recent years.

“It is a huge deal,” said Heather Gerken, a Yale Law School professor and an expert on election law. “For years, everyone has waited for the Supreme Court to do something on this front. Now one of the lower courts has jump-started the debate.

“If this were to be a nationwide standard, 2021 would look quite different,” she said, “especially for the Democrats.”

Several election-law scholars said the ruling was especially significant because it offered, for the first time, a clear mathematical formula for measuring partisanship in a district, something that had been missing in previous assaults on gerrymandering.


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