Thursday, March 22, 2012

Republican Senator's Resignation Gives Dems Role In Redistricting Do-Over

Pam Galloway's resignation last weekend as the session ended leaves the State Senate split 50-50, so the Republicans must share power and decision-making when following today's Federal court finding that Hispanic voters on Milwaukee's south side had their voting rights ignored by the earlier, GOP-led secretive redistricting planning and outcome.

Leads me to believe the Senate leadership thought they had the redistricting ruling in the bag.

As I observed a week ago:

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Federal Judges Could Send Redistricting Back To A 50-50 State Senate

Just sayin'.

Could happen.

No decision yet on the redistricting lawsuit now before a three-judge panel in Milwaukee federal court.

But wouldn't that be a fitting karmic outcome and unintended consequence enabled by the sudden resignation of State Senator Pam Galloway, (R-Wausau) to  her party's smarty-pants' secret legislating and scheming: a do-over, but with both parties in the Senate having an equal say in what would be a very different redistricting process.


Rick Esenberg said...

Jim, Jim, Jim

The only thing that will happen - the only thing that can happen - is that the boundary between ADs 8 and 9 will change. If the Dems try to get more, the court will have to order the new boundaries and the decision makes clear that is all the court will do.

So, yes, they have a role in redrawing the line between two Democratic districts - if they want it. But 97 of the Assembly districts and all 33 Senate districts will remain unchanged.

James Rowen said...

What say you to the tone of the decision?

Anonymous said...

Who is Jim-Jim-Jim?

Anonymous said...

Not so fast Mr. Esenberg...the Court demanded a "60% Hispanic Citizen Voting Age Population" configuration for the 8th Assembly District. Accomplishing that, without touching any other district besides the 9th is mathematically problematic because of some of the "white high turnout" wards that are not adjacent to the Ninth AD...where do you go next if 60% is Court ordered threshold for HCVAP?

MAL said...

The lawmakers will now draw a new map (assuming the Rs don't appeal), based on the decision to reconfigure assembly districts 8,9.

But this remapping process is dynamic and will have repercussions in maintaining roughly equal populations in the other 97 districts. So changes can be made to the other disticts, resulting in a new map.

Demcoratic Lawmakers can draw a new a map and explain why; Republicans can draw a new map and explain why; and then we have a new conflict that the panel will ultimately decide.

To suggest you can move around 100,000s of votes without repercussions to the populations of other assembly districts is wrong. "[A]ll assembly districts, are as equal in the number of inhabitants as practicable within the guidelines further set forth in this section," reads 2011 Wisconsin Code
Chapter 4. Senate and assembly districts.
4.001 Legislative redistricting; equal population. See

Different ways of complying with this order exist, and compromise is necessary.

James Rowen said...

Though I appreciated the support in a comment in re: Rowen vs. Esenberg that just came in, I will post it in another iteration when the author removes the unneeded name-calling that intended for Esenberg.

MAL said...

Here's the URL for the decision.

And on p. 34, the decision does read that the new map "must" occur within the outer bounderies of the two districts "to avoid disruptng other lines."

More ambigious than appears at first look.

One can comply and make an argument that compliance demands a map that involves changes to some six or seven adjacent districts, and which conforms to communities of interest recognizing - as the GOP does not - local borders.

New maps will happen; how different is not clear.

Jaime McBrady said...

I'm afraid to raise even a simple Q when this conversation is so hot but here goes: Does the legislature have a required deadline for redistricting? If so, when? Are they trying to get it in place for the recall elections and any thoughts on how much time we have to prepare the electorate for identifying their new districts?

James Rowen said...

From the latest JSonline update:

The court did not set a timeline for lawmakers to make changes, but observers said maps must be put in place by April 15, when candidates can start circulating nomination papers.

Rick Esenberg said...

MAL finds the answer to his question to me but can't accept it.

Here is what the panel said about the only relief it ordered:

"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."

If MAL thinks that language can be read to justify changes to six or seven adjacent districts outside the "combined outer boundaries of those two districts," he speaks a different form of English than I do.

The court, incidentally, said that is was sure this could be done because of the alternative proposed by the plaintiff's experts.

Rick Esenberg said...

As to the tone of the decision, Jim, I am a bit concerned and you should be as well - although perhaps not for the same reason.

It is a legitimate question to ask why a federal court should criticize a sovereign government for things that are perfectly legal but not just what the federal court would prefer. I give the panel credit for sticking to the law in their decision (even if I think they got the AD 8-9 bit wrong). I am not endorsing the decision to editorialize. That, it seems to me, is directly at odds with the court's stated interest in civility.

And, as far as that editorial is concerned, when you actually read what concerns them it really amounts to an argument that the panel thinks that redistricting should be a matter or compromise or removed from partisan actors. None of these things are legally required. All of these things can be advocated for by citizens. None of them are concerns for a federal court.

James Rowen said...

@Rick: Don't judges have great freedom in the construction of their rulings? Don't they wax eloquent or wordy.

It seems to me that the judges - - free to comment as judges can and do - - took that tone because they had seen enough game-playing right before their very eyes in the frivolous defendant motions, withheld documents, and testimony about partisan motives the judges said said was laughable.

Their remarks were made with civility. No way you can argue that it undercut their observations about the lack of civility in the state of the state.

gnarlytrombone said...

criticize a sovereign government for things that are perfectly legal but not just what the federal court would prefer

Ethics really aren't in Professor Esenberg's wheelhouse.

Aaron Rodriguez said...

"Not so fast Mr. Esenberg...the Court demanded a "60% Hispanic Citizen Voting Age Population" configuration for the 8th Assembly District."

Where did the Court demand a 60% Hispanic Citizen VAP for the 8th Assembly district? You shouldn't draw conclusions from press releases.