The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) has filed its official response to the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s (SCOWIS) hired political consultants’ analysis of all submitted legislative maps.
In our filing, we point out that the Court’s so called “experts” offer arguments inconsistent with both legal precedent and their own previous writings. We also explain how the Court’s addressing the question of partisan gerrymandering without discovery or a trial is a clear due process violation.
The Quotes: WILL President and General Counsel, Rick Esenberg, stated, “The consultants want to manipulate the maps to elect more Democrats who they feel are disadvantaged by the single member geographic districts called for by our Constitution. Whether you agree or not, the Court is obligated to follow the Constitution and not the personal and political preferences of consultants.”
Luke Berg, WILL Deputy Counsel, added, “WILL’s map was drawn without considering politics, to adhere as closely as possible to Wisconsin’s geography, and the Court’s consultants admit that it performs the best on neutral redistricting criteria. Yet they urge the Court to reject it as a ‘stealth’ gerrymander, in favor of maps that actually and unashamedly gerrymander in favor of Democrats. Adopting that rationale would be the ultimate bait-and-switch and an egregious due process violation.”
The Experts Contradict Themselves: WILL recently submitted legislative maps that strongly adhere to the Wisconsin Constitution’s neutral districting criteria. The Court’s political consultants, Drs. Bernard Grofman and Jonathan Cervas, acknowledge this fact; yet, they allege that WILL’s map is a “stealth gerrymander” and that “geography is not destiny.”
But in previous writings, they stated the opposite. They wrote that neutral maps are those drawn using “traditional good government criteria, with no attention paid to partisan considerations.” They also admitted that Democrats tend to be packed into urban areas, hurting their ability to win more seats. They have also explicitly stated that neutral maps do not “compensate for the difference in partisan concentration.” All of this contradicts their contemporary criticism of WILL’s map – which is simply that WILL’s map should not be chosen because it does not guarantee an equal number of seats for both Democrats and Republicans.
Potential Violation of Due Process: When it granted this case, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that it would not consider the so-called partisan gerrymandering claims because they present “the need for extensive fact-finding (if not a full-scale trial).” As a result, the parties have not briefed the issues relating to such claims, much less engaged in the discovery, presentation of evidence, and “extensive fact-finding” the issue requires.
- Brief in Response to Expert Reports, February 2024