by Matt Lynch, Special Counsel, Foley & Lardner LLP and Steering Committee member, ACS Madison Lawyer Chapter
Few are willing to defend the practice of partisan gerrymandering on its merits. Republican lawmakers, Democratic lawmakers, historians, political scientists, law professors, partisan interest groups, and nonpartisan interest groups alike all agree that gerrymandering—drawing legislative districts for the purpose of political advantage—is a pox on representative government. But stopping the practice requires legislators to voluntarily harm their own chances for re-election. And so gerrymandering continues, now aided by more precise voter data than we have ever had, and the technology to use it on a broad, state-wide scale.
Gill v. Whitford, a case arising from Wisconsin’s heavily gerrymandered districts, presents the United States Supreme Court with a clean opportunity to rein in that despised practice. The only question is whether the justices—namely swing Justice Anthony Kennedy—believe it is a problem that warrants a judicial solution.