Thursday, March 22, 2012

Judges: 1 Million+ Voters Moved Needlessly, But Only Hispanic District Violates Voter Rights

The heart of the Federal Court redistricting ruling today in Milwaukee:

Milwaukee's Hispanic district as redrawn by the GOP-led Legislature violates residents protected voting rights and must be promptly redrawn; remaining districts needlessly moved more than a million people to new districts but meet Supreme court standards; drafting process was "needlessly secret...regrettably excluding input from the overwhelming majority of Wisconsin citizens...."


In conclusion, we find that the Baldus and Voces plaintiffs are entitled to relief on their Section 2 claim concerning New Assembly Districts 8 and 9, because Act 43 fails to create a majority-minority district for Milwaukee’s Latino community. Two influence districts have never been held to be an

[footnote - - 4 Indeed, the GAB claimed before trial that it is barred by the Wisconsin Constitution from making any amendments to the redistricting plan for the next ten years. We saw nothing in the Wisconsin Constitution or in Zimmerman that stood in the way of further revision by the General Assembly in the context of reaching a settlement with the plaintiffs, but for present purposes we will take the GAB at its word that it finds its hands tied to make any changes to the plan whatsoever until 10 years has elapsed, and assume that this position will also require it to argue to a competent court that any effort on the part of the legislature to advance the effective date of Act 43 is blocked by the state constitution.]

Page 33 of 38

adequate substitute for such a district under the factual circumstances that we have before us. This holding is not intended to affect any other district drawn by Act 43. Indeed, to avoid disrupting other lines, the court emphasizes that the re-drawing of the lines for Districts 8 and 9 must occur within the combined outer boundaries of those two districts. 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. This should not be an impossible task, given that Dr. Mayer has prepared at least one alternative configuration that should be a useful starting point.
As for the other claims, we find that although the drafting of Act 43 was needlessly secret, regrettably excluding input from the overwhelming majority of Wisconsin citizens, and although the final product needlessly moved more than a million Wisconsinites and disrupted their long-standing political relationships, the resulting population deviations are not large enough to permit judicial intervention under the Supreme Court’s precedents. Act 44 has zero population deviation, which is why we find that the intervenor-plaintiffs have no meritorious “one person, one vote” claim. The intervenor-plaintiffs’ partisan gerrymandering claim never made it out of the gate because no workable standard was offered to the court.
Tempers can flare when people are excluded from the political process, whether they are shut out because of their party affiliation, because of their race, because of their economic status, or because of any other trait. Such a contentious atmosphere is neither necessary nor desirable. We know that it is not necessary, because courts hold themselves to a higher standard and have succeeded in drawing successful maps time and again. We should

Page 34 of 38

have learned that it is not desirable because of the rancor that it fosters. Some states, like Iowa and California, have adopted nonpartisan systems that seem successfully to have overcome this. New York is seriously thinking right now of taking a similar step, and there has been some talk of it in Wisconsin in the wake of this litigation. But we must deal with the here-and-now, and we therefore must acquiesce in the approach that Wisconsin (not alone among the states in this circuit, we hasten to add–see Committee for a Fair and Balanced Map v. Illinois State Bd. of Elections, — F. Supp. 2d —, 2011 WL 6318960, (N.D. Ill. Dec 15, 2011); Radogno v. Illinois State Bd. of Elections, — F. Supp. 2d —, 2011 WL 5025251 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 21, 2011))–has chosen.

No comments: