Wisconsin Republicans Fight Gerrymandering Decision

WISCONSINREPORT.COM (02/26/2017) – Republicans are actively appealing the recent federal court ruling that found them engaging in unconstitutional gerrymandering when they redrew boundaries that affect voting districts. A State Senator claims GOP leaders have decided to roll the dice by using another $175,000 of taxpayers money to continue what has been a losing battle to defend themselves against a federal court decision that found the Republicans rigged Wisconsin elections when they drew the current lines.

“With today’s decision by state Republicans to appeal the federal court ruling that found them to have engaged in unconstitutional gerrymandering, justice for Wisconsin’s voters is being delayed and state taxpayers are being forced to foot the bill”, said State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay, WI.)

“It is past time for the legislature to adopt true, non-partisan redistricting reform just as our neighbors in Iowa have done,” Senator Hansen said. “Doing so will prevent the further waste of taxpayer dollars and ensure that Wisconsin voters get the fair and competitive elections they deserve,” he added.

The Fair Elections Project is calling the decision by Republicans to continue fighting the court decision, another GOP shenanigan the state can do without.

“The people of Wisconsin want a fair map, drawn in an open and transparent process, not more shenanigans,” said Sachin Chheda, Director of the Fair Elections Project. “The AG and the Legislature should be focused on the next steps and complying with the district court’s order, rather than wasting more taxpayer dollars defending an unfair, unconstitutional map drawn in a secret process.”

Dale Schultz, a Republican former state senate majority leader who co-chairs the Fair Elections Project, agrees that the approximately 2 Million Dollars already spent to fight the Federal Court action, is more than enough wasted.

“As a longtime Senator, I know there’s no support out there on the streets and in the fields for this nonsense,” said Schultz. “It’s way past time to move to the next step and just redraw the maps in a way the public can participate and feel confident in the result.”

The appeal came after what has been called a stunning federal verdict that ruled Wisconsin’s legislative maps are unconstitutional, granting victory to 12 Wisconsin Democrats who filed suit more than a year earlier.

“We are fighting for openness and transparency because confidence in our government is very low,” said Tim Cullen, a former state senate majority leader who serves as the other Fair Elections Project co-chair. “Secret map rooms and throwing away taxpayer money – that’s a big part of the reason. It’s time to just do the right thing instead.”

The three panel decision is the first time a map has been overturned by a federal court for being gerrymandered for political reasons. The court subsequently ordered new maps to be drawn by November 2017, in order to be utilized for the 2018 elections, and enjoined further use of the maps passed in 2011.

Originally filed in July 2015, the lawsuit demanded the district maps for the state Legislature be thrown out, calling the line-drawing process “secretive” and “partisan,” and the maps unconstitutional for overly advantaging one party. The lawsuit fulfills a call issued by the U.S. Supreme Court in previous cases for a standard to measure how much partisan gerrymandering is allowable, and shows how Wisconsin’s map is far outside acceptable redistricting norms.

The trial was conducted in front of the federal panel in Madison in May, in which new evidence was detailed that described the secret, illicit process used to draw the maps. Testimony in the trial detailed the lengths the legislative majority went to in order to bias the maps and then hide their work.

State Senator Dave Hansen is a retired teacher and truck driver from Green Bay, Wisconsin. He has served as a State Senator since 2001, and, is currently Assistant Minority Leader. Hansen was the target of a recall effort as a result of his fleeing the state in an attempt to prevent the Senate from being able to vote on Act 10. He defeated his challenger and retained his seat.

Tim Cullen, Janesville, Wisconsin, was a member of the Wisconsin Senate, representing the 15th District between 2011 and 2015, and previously from 1975 through 1987. In 1987 he was appointed by Republican Governor Tommy Thompson to head the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services. On November 2, 2010, Cullen was again elected to represent the 15th district. He cited too much partisanship to get work accomplished as a reason for retirement from the legislature.

During the protests in Wisconsin, Tim Cullen, along with the 13 other Democratic State Senators, fled the state to deny the State Senate a quorum on Governor Scott Walker’s controversial “Budget Repair” legislation. Walker earlier referred to Cullen as “the only reasonable one” of the Wisconsin Democrats during the protests.

Dale W. Schultz is a Republican politician who represented the 17th District in the Wisconsin Senate from 1991 until 2015. He was previously a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly from 1982 through 1991. Schultz was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1982 and by special election to the Wisconsin Senate in 1991. Schultz was narrowly elected Senate Majority leader in 2004, but lost that post when the Democrats took control of the Wisconsin Senate in 2006.

 

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