New York Times Magazine: The New Front in the Gerrymandering Wars: Democracy vs. Math

Emily Bazelon
Aug 29, 2017
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The Legislature passed the plan a week later, with the support of every Republican, including Schultz, and no Democrats. In the next election, in November 2012, Republicans won only 47 percent of the vote but 60 of 99 seats in the Assembly. In the midterm year of 2014, they won 57 percent of the Assembly vote and 63 seats, and in 2016, they won about 53 percent of the Assembly vote and 64 seats. Wisconsin is a purple state: Barack Obama won it twice, and Donald Trump barely carried it, by 22,000 votes. But one-­party control continues to produce policies associated with a deep-­red electorate. ‘‘I’d never seen anything like that before,’’ Schultz said of the election results that followed the redistricting. ‘‘I started to see how powerful and unbelievable the redistricting process was.’’

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The Democratic plaintiffs who are challenging Wisconsin’s map in Gill v. Whitford, represented by the Campaign Legal Center, will argue to the Supreme Court next month that partisan gerrymandering, like racial gerrymandering, violates voters’ rights to be treated equally. They will also offer a second argument, based on the First Amendment, that comes from Justice Kennedy. He suggested in Vieth v. Jubelirer that gerrymandering could violate the right to freedom of expression and association, by ‘‘subjecting a group of voters or their party to disfavored treatment by reason of their views.’’

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