Whitford v. Gill
A three-judge federal panel has ordered the Wisconsin Legislature to redraw the state assembly map that the court struck down as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander by November 1, 2017.
Last November, the panel declared that the state house plan adopted by Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled legislature in 2011 was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander that violated both the Equal Protection Clause and the plaintiffs’ First Amendment freedom of association. The ruling was the first time in over three decades that a federal court invalidated a redistricting plan for partisan bias.
After evaluating the constitutionality of the map with a three-part test, the panel concluded that the map displayed both bad intent and bad effect, citing evidence that the map drawers used special partisan measurements to ensure that the map maximized Republican advantages in assembly seats. Despite Democrats winning a majority of the statewide Assembly vote in 2012 and 2014, Republicans won sixty of the ninety-nine Assembly seats. Wisconsin Republicans dispute the assertion that they intentionally engineered a biased map, arguing that partisan skews in the map reflect a natural geographic advantage they have in redistricting as a result of Democrats clustering in cities while Republicans are spread out more evenly throughout the state. The court, however, said the state’s natural political geography “does not explain adequately the sizeable disparate effect” seen in the previous two election cycles.
The panel, however, denied one of the plaintiffs’ principal requests: to have judges, not lawmakers and the governor, in charge of redrawing the legislative boundaries, stating in its opinion, “it is neither necessary nor appropriate for us to embroil the Court in the Wisconsin Legislature’s deliberations.” The court advised the panel to use the November ruling as a guide in developing a new redistricting plan.
Wisconsin filed an appeal on February 24, 2017, asking the Supreme Court to review the decision striking down the map.
Key Court Documents
- Complaint (July 8, 2015)
- Brief in Support of Motion to Dismiss (August 18, 2015)
- Brief in Opposition for Motion to Dismiss by Plaintiffs (September 29, 2015)
- Reply Brief in Support of Motion to Dismiss by Defendants (October 9, 2015)
- Order denying Motion to Dismiss (December 17, 2015)
- Motion for Summary Judgement (January 4, 2016)
- Brief in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment by Defendants (January 4, 2016)
- Brief in Opposition of Motion for Summary Judgment by Plaintiffs (January 25, 2016)
- Brief in Reply by Defendants (February 4, 2016)
- Trial Brief by Defendants (May 16, 2016)
- Trial Brief by Plaintiffs (May 16, 2016)
- Post-Trial Brief by Defendants (June 20, 2016)
- Post-Trial Reply Brief by Plaintiffs (June 20, 2016)
- Opinion and Order (November 21, 2016)
- Defendants’ Brief on Remedy (December 21, 2016)
- Plaintiffs’ Brief on Remedies (December 21, 2016)
- Defendants' Response Brief on Remedies (January 5, 2017)
- Plaintiffs' Response Brief on Remedies (January 5, 2017)
- League of Women Voters Amicus Brief (January 5, 2017)
- Opinion and Order (January 27, 2017)
- Amended Judgment (February 22, 2017)
- Defendants' Notice of Appeal (February 24,2017)
- Jurisdictional Statement (March 24, 2017)