Cook County Record: 'It's more possible now' - Penn Supreme Court ruling could open gerrymander reform avenue in IL, via courts

Jonathan Bilyk
Mar 5, 2018

Redistricting reform proponents in Illinois and other states have also taken note of recent developments in the state of Pennsylvania, where that state’s Democratic-controlled Supreme Court has granted a win against what that court deemed to be redistricting overreach from the Republican majority in the state’s legislature.


“Illinois’ current map doesn’t have such an extreme advantage as many people think,” said Ruth Greenwood, senior legal counsel for voting rights and redistricting at the Campaign Legal Center in Washington, D.C., and an adjunct law professor at Loyola University Chicago.

She points to the so-called “efficiency gap,” a statistic developed to help reflect how much a particular legislative map favors one party or another. In Illinois, in 2012, for instance, the first election year under the current legislative maps, Democrats enjoyed an efficiency gap of a little more than 2 percent in their favor. By contrast, in Wisconsin, the Republican map gave the GOP a 15 percent advantage.

Greenwood, however, said that comparison may mean less than some observers may believe. She, for instance, was among those who filed briefs in 2016 with the Illinois Supreme Court in support of the ballot question that would have placed the so-called Independent Maps amendment before Illinois voters.

“There’s clear evidence this (Illinois’ map) was drawn to favor Democrats,” said Greenwood. “We know both sides have done their best to gerrymander over the last 50 years.”

And, while Greenwood is among those watching the U.S. Supreme Court to see how it may rule in the Wisconsin case, she is also among those who believe the Pennsylvania ruling could introduce some new possibilities into the fight over redistricting in Illinois.

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