Friday, March 23, 2012

Sen. Fitzgerald Obstructionism Brings Response That Minces No Words

The parties who prevailed in Federal Court against the state for establishing south side Milwaukee Assembly districts that illegally-diluted Latino voting power petitioned the court for a new hearing today on a mapping because Senate Majority Leader said he would not bring the Senate into session to make the needed redistricting repairs.

The plaintiffs did not hold back, with this opening to their petition:

Defying the decision of this Court, the state’s legislative leadership late yesterday declared that the legislature would not address the Voting Rights Act violation and other infirmities in Act 43 now enjoined by the Court’s March 22, 2012 judgment.
Accordingly, Voces de la Frontera (“Voces”) and the Baldus plaintiffs, by their counsel, jointly move the Court, in accordance with Civil L.R. 7(h), to schedule a half-day hearing on remedies and, to that end, require the parties who so choose to submit alternative configurations for Assembly Districts 8 and 9 and any other appropriate remedies on an expedited schedule.
Other highlights  - -  and I'll post a link to the petition pdf when I find one: 
In support of the motion, Voces and the Baldus plaintiffs state that:
1.    The Court issued its Memorandum Opinion and Order yesterday declaring Act 43 in violation of the Voting Rights Act and, in its judgment, ordered the defendants “ENJOINED from implementing ACT 43 in its current form.” Memorandum Opinion and Order (“Op.”) at 37 (Dkt. 210).

2.    Fewer than six hours after the Court issued its opinion and judgment, the Senate Republican Leader, Scott Fitzgerald, was quoted as asking: “Why would you go back to the Legislature?” and stating that “there was ‘not a chance’ senators would return to the floor to take up the maps.” Widely reported throughout the state, the leader’s statement can be found in the Wisconsin State Journal and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Declaration of Douglas M. Poland (“Poland Decl.”) ¶¶ 2 -3, Exs. A, B.

3.    At the same time, the state’s principal legal officer, the Attorney General, whose office helped defend Act 43, issued a statement that the Court’s decision had “vindicated” the legislature’s redistricting work. See Poland Decl. ¶ 4, Ex. C. Later yesterday, the Attorney General also said: “I don’t think it [redistricting] will get done by the legislature.... I believe it will ultimately be the court that redraws the lines.” See Poland Decl. ¶ 5, Ex. D.

4.    At the same time, an employee of the Wisconsin Department of Justice, working for the Attorney General, stated that the Court’s judgment was “ambiguous,” suggesting that it applied only to two assembly districts in Milwaukee – notwithstanding the injunction against the implementation of all of Act 43. See Poland Decl. ¶ 3, Ex. B.

5.    Redistricting is indeed principally the responsibility of the legislative branch, as this Court and the Supreme Court repeatedly have declared. Op. at 10 (citing Perry v. Perez, 565 U.S. ___, 132 S. Ct. 934, 940 (2012)); Op. at 34 (Dkt. 210). In her opening statement to the Court, Assistant Attorney General Maria Lazar reiterated that: “When all is said and done here, the principal concept is the one that this court has been focusing upon ... is that redistricting is the province of the Legislature.” Trans., Vol. IV at 96:16-19 (Feb. 23, 2012) (Dkt. 195).

6.    When the legislature abdicates that responsibility – either because it is unable or, here, unwilling to exercise that responsibility – it necessarily falls to the federal judicial system to ensure that statutory and constitutional rights are protected.

7.    The statements by one party’s legislative leadership and the Attorney General are not under oath, but it would do little good to attempt to depose them – or, on this matter, to question their veracity because they made their declarations within hours of the Court’s decision and to the public at large.

8.    “Recognizing as we have throughout this litigation the primary role that the state has in this area, we are giving the legislature the first opportunity to address this point, but it must act quickly given the impending elections.” Op. at 34 (Dkt. 210). Quite clearly, the legislature has declined that opportunity, but the urgency remains.

RELIEF REQUESTED WHEREFORE, for the reasons stated above, Voces de la Frontera and the Baldus plaintiffs move the Court to enter a procedural order forthwith and without awaiting a reply from the state:

1.    Scheduling a half-day hearing on the remedies available to the Baldus plaintiffs and Voces;

2.    Ordering the parties to submit proposed alternative remedies and supporting briefs within seven calendar days of the entry of an order; and responses due three calendar days thereafter. The moving parties request that these deadlines include week-ends and holidays within the counted period; and,

3.    In light of the legislature’s stated refusal to follow the Court’s order and judgment, such other and further relief that may be appropriate.

3 comments:

CJ said...

Fitzgeral's refusal to bring the Legislature back into session will simply expedite the process of moving this forward to the Supreme Court. I think that's a major part of his plan since the republicans have lost majority leverage.

I don't know what can legally be done, but I wonder if there is a way for him to be held in contempt of the court.

Anonymous said...

Is Fitzgerald so arrogant to even consider recommendations
from the lawyers who drew these up?

Paul Trotter said...

So where do the maps stand as of now? If Fitzgerald does nothing what will happen and does he really have a choice?