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Gill Vs Withford Gerrymandering

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Etienne Bouchez

Public Affairs

Neil Sullivan

Paper #2

Due 2/28/18

Gill vs. Withford

        Gill versus Withford is a United States Supreme Court case regarding the constitutionality of gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is used to gain dominance over the House of Representatives and used in The United States to strengthen the power of particular political interests within legislative bodies. The problem that arose is gerrymandering based on race have been considered unconstitutional. Although it is considered unconstitutional, the Supreme Court considers gerrymandering as a whole is unconstitutional. This is actually the first Supreme Court case ruling on gerrymandering. The decision will be announced in June 2018.

        State legislatures are divided into “precincts” which are drawn onto a map that have representation. Whichever party is in power in the State legislature at the time of the census, (every 10 years) gets to redraw the maps in whichever way they want. They put all the votes of a party into precincts by drawing up maps and spread the known voters of the parties around the state and draw multiple precincts so they have more precincts made of primarily democratic or republican voters.

        For example, this leads to a situation where a state with a fifty percent population of Latino and African American, who usually vote democrat, and a fifty percent population of old white Americans, who usually vote republican. We would expect a fifty/fifty party power makeup in the state legislature between the republican and democratic parties. But if the maps were drawn in a way that the Latino and African American population were made up to one percent and multiple precincts were drawn out of the old white Americans, the party power makeup in the state legislature would be more in favor of republicans.

        In 2011, Republican legislators created a redistricting plan for the state of Wisconsin. This would maximize chance of republicans securing additional seats in the State Legislature and dominance over the House of Representatives. Democrats considered it unconstitutional and claimed the plan caused the Democrat votes to be “wasted”. The case was filed in 2015. In 2016 the District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin ruled in favor of the Democrats based in the gap in power between the Republican and Democratic parties.

        William Whitford, a Law School professor at the University of Wisconsin and the lead plaintiff in the case, argues the new map does not reflect Wisconsin’s electorate. He states that "Wisconsin’s Assembly ... bears no resemblance to its evenly split electorate. In 2012, Republicans won a supermajority of 60 seats (out of 99) while losing the statewide vote. In 2014 and 2016, Republicans extended their advantage to 63 and 64 seats, respectively, even though the statewide vote remained nearly tied. Republicans thus wield legislative power unearned by their actual appeal to Wisconsin’s voters. This pro-Republican skew is no accident,”

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