“This is a huge ruling for Wisconsin,” said Martin, a social studies teacher from Eau Claire. “Every piece of policy that comes from our legislature impacts our students and classrooms. An end to gerrymandering – a political power play – is a step in the right direction to limit extreme overreaches.”
On Monday a panel of three federal judges issued a ruling that the State Assembly districts enacted by the Republican controlled legislature in 2011 are unconstitutional.
The court found that the districts were discriminatory and prevented Democrats from being able to hold a number of seats in the legislature proportional to the number of votes cast for Democrats in the state.
“We find that the discriminatory effect is not explained by the political geography of Wisconsin nor is it justified by a legitimate state interest. Consequently, Act 43 constitutes an unconstitutional political gerrymander,” the decision reads.
No immediate remedy was imposed but the ruling could lead to a requirement that new district maps be created, a process that could ultimately level the playing field and give Democrats a more equal chance of winning legislative elections. However, Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel has said that this ruling will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In an analysis of the ruling, Slate reported this week that the Wisconsin case “marks a turning point in the way the judiciary evaluates gerrymandering: Never before has a federal court invalidated a gerrymander for providing an unfair advantage to one political party.”
Slate went on to say: “If the Supreme Court affirms the decision—and the ruling appears to be catered toward the idiosyncratic constitutional philosophies of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who could be the deciding vote—it will overhaul congressional maps across the country and fundamentally alter representation in the United States.”
Read more from Slate:
On Monday, a federal district court ruled that Wisconsin’s hyper-partisan gerrymander violates the U.S. Constitution. The three-judge panel’s 2-1 decision marks a turning point in the way the judiciary evaluates gerrymandering: Never before has a federal court invalidated a gerrymander for providing an unfair advantage to one political party.