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Analysis

Briefs Providing the Perspectives of Bipartisan Elected Officials on the Problems with Extreme Partisan Gerrymandering

To help court-watchers sort through more than one thousand pages of amicus briefs in Gill v. Whitford, the Brennan Center has prepared an annotated guide breaking down each brief’s most important arguments.

September 29, 2017

Brief of Senat­ors John McCain and Shel­don White­house in Support of Appellees

Summary: This brief, filed by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Senator Shel­don White­house (D-RI), warns that the Court’s fail­ure to estab­lish clear limits on partis­an­ship in redis­trict­ing has encour­aged politi­cians to gerry­mander, which has, in turn, provided another chan­nel for “dark money” and special interest groups to infilt­rate our polit­ics. Voters sense that their elec­tions have been fixed by special interests, the Senat­ors assert, and that has under­cut their respect for Amer­ican polit­ical insti­tu­tions. The law firm Coving­ton & Burl­ing is coun­sel for this brief.

Brief of Repub­lican Statewide Offi­cials in Support of Appellees

Summary: This brief, filed by prom­in­ent Repub­lican elec­ted offi­cials John Danforth, Bob Dole, John Kasich, Richard Lugar, and Arnold Schwar­zeneg­ger, emphas­izes how partisan-gerry­man­der­ing tactics designed to entrench one party in power under­mine attempts to build consensus and craft bipar­tisan legis­la­tion that is respons­ive to the needs of the whole elect­or­ate. Charles Fried—who served as U.S. Soli­citor General under Pres­id­ent Ronald Reagan—and the law firm Kellogg, Hansen, Todd, Figel & Fred­er­ick are co-coun­sel for this brief.

Brief for Bipar­tisan Group of Current and Former Members of Congress in Support of Appellees

Summary: This brief, filed by a bipar­tisan coali­tion of current and former members of Congress, explains how extreme partisan gerry­man­der­ing under­mines the func­tion­ing of the U.S. House of Repres­ent­at­ives. Among other things, as the legis­lat­ors explain, gerry­man­der­ing makes comprom­ise polit­ic­ally impossible and stokes voter disen­chant­ment with—and disen­gage­ment from—the polit­ical process. The law firm Wilmer Cutler Pick­er­ing Hale and Dorr LLP is coun­sel for this brief.

Brief for Bipar­tisan Group of 65 Current and Former State Legis­lat­ors in Support of Appellees

Summary: This brief was filed by a bipar­tisan coali­tion of 65 current and former state legis­lat­ors from Wiscon­sin, Illinois, Mary­land, Michigan, North Caro­lina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island, includ­ing current U.S. Senator Tammy Bald­win. The brief sheds light on the detri­mental effects gerry­man­der­ing has for rela­tion­ships among legis­lat­or­s—dis­cour­aging collab­or­a­tion and creat­ing an envir­on­ment of dysfunc­tion on the legis­lat­ive floor. The legis­lat­ors also explain how gerry­man­der­ing erodes rela­tion­ships among repres­ent­at­ives and their constitu­ents, includ­ing by under­cut­ting their account­ab­il­ity to the voters in their districts. The law firm Holwell Shuster & Gold­berg is coun­sel for this brief.