Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Wisconsin Case Could Deliver National Blow to Partisan Gerrymandering



Tuesday - June 20, 2017


The U.S. Supreme Court's decision Monday morning to hear Gill v. Whitford is good news for the millions of Americans currently being denied the right to elect representatives of their choosing due to partisan gerrymandering.

Under review is a November 2016 finding by a three-judge federal panel that the Wisconsin state lawmakers engaged in illegal partisan gerrymandering when they approved new voter boundaries in 2011. If the High Court agrees, it can end the excessive partisan manipulation of district lines across the country.

Although federal courts have previously ruled against redrawing voter districts in a way that disadvantages racial minorities, this is the first-ever federal ruling that a single-member district plan was drawn illegally for partisan advantage. The 2011 Wisconsin gerrymander by the Republicans was considered to be the most partisan of any Republican gerrymander in the nation that year.

For too long, the important task of redistricting has resembled a back-alley brawl: no rules, no referees, and no holds barred. Technology has made it easier than ever for self-interested legislators to manipulate districts for political advantage, so it is essential that courts step in to protect voters' fundamental constitutional rights.

Partisan and racial gerrymanders drive many Americans from participating in our democratic process because they feel that their votes don’t count. Sadly, in states like Wisconsin today, many of those citizens are right. Politicians should not be choosing their voters. It’s supposed to be the other way around.

In 2012 a majority of Wisconsinites who went to the polls voted for Democrats to represent them in the Wisconsin Assembly, but only 39 of 99 Assembly seats were won by Democratic candidates. The votes of Democrats essentially counted for less than those of Republicans because the districts were drawn in such a way that Democrats could not win control of the Wisconsin Assembly despite receiving more votes than Republicans.

The will of the majority of voters was thwarted through the “packing” and “cracking” of votes in gerrymandered state legislative districts. That means “packing” a disfavored party’s supporters into as few districts as possible while “cracking” other districts to give the favored party a slight advantage. Both strategies dilute one party’s strength at the expense of the other. Such deliberate and excessive partisanship was ruled to be unconstitutional by the three-judge federal court panel.

Wisconsin Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel appealed the federal court decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which took the case Monday. The citizens who are challenging redistricting in Wisconsin specifically designed this case in an attempt to win over “swing” conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy, who once said he would be open to re-examining excessive partisan gerrymandering if a reasonable standard to measure it could be established.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday stayed the federal court order for the Wisconsin Legislature to redraw the state legislative districts before November 2017. While disappointing, this is not completely surprising given the October, or later date for oral arguments. An affirmative decision to uphold the lower court decision should still leave sufficient time for the Wisconsin Legislature, and legislators in other states, to draw new, less partisan legislative districts before the 2018 elections.





CONTACT:

Jay Heck
608/256-2686 (office)
608/512-9363 (cell)




Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI  53703
608/256-2686

Want Good Government?
Join Common Cause in Wisconsin!
www.CommonCauseWisconsin.org



Read More...


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Assembly to Vote Wednesday on Dangerous, Misguided Legislation to Undermine the U.S. Constitution



Tuesday - June 13, 2017


Despite many other pressing state budget issues of great concern to Wisconsin citizens, Republicans in the State Assembly have carved out time on Wednesday (Flag Day - June 14th) to vote on a measure no one is calling for except for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and some other wealthy special interest groups that bankroll the state GOP – such as Wisconsin Club for Growth.

Measures to make Wisconsin the 28th state (of 34 needed) to call for an Article V Constitutional Convention are AJR 20, AJR 21 and AB 165 – all misguided measures written for the stated purpose of adding a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but which would take us well beyond even that draconian, disastrous outcome.

A convention like this has never been called and assembled before in our nation's history (since the first and only Constitutional Convention establishing the nation in 1787) and it could be a very destructive and dangerous event. A convention of this type could go well beyond a balanced budget measure and go on to alter or eliminate citizen rights currently protected by the Constitution. Voting rights, civil rights, women's rights, an end to democracy and freedom itself. The possibilities are endless.

Citizens need to educate themselves about this "under-the-radar" attack on liberty, freedom and democracy, and take action to stop Wisconsin from going down this road to perdition.

This past weekend, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published this opinion-editorial from the directors of four reform advocacy organizations (including CC/WI) explaining why the Article V Constitutional Convention is such a horrendous idea.

CC/WI Director Jay Heck spent a half hour on statewide Wisconsin Public Radio on Monday detailing why these measures must be stopped.

Jay's detailed testimony against this proposal is here.

If you want even more information, go here and here.

Active citizen involvement is needed to stop this from happening. While prospects for stopping these measures appear brighter in the State Senate, we must flood the State Assembly with calls and messages of opposition to these measures no citizens are calling for and that could damage our democracy and strip away our liberties in ways thought unimaginable a few years ago. To contact your State Representative, go here. If you are not sure who your state legislators are, go here.

Your active participation in protecting democracy can make a difference.

On Wisconsin! Never surrender!






CONTACT:

Jay Heck
608/256-2686 (office)
608/512-9363 (cell)




Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI  53703
608/256-2686

Want Good Government?
Join Common Cause in Wisconsin!
www.CommonCauseWisconsin.org



Read More...


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

ACTION ALERT: State Assembly Committee to Vote on Measure to Undermine the U.S. Constitution on Wednesday



Tuesday - May 30, 2017


As has become their now routine procedure to schedule legislative action on bad public policy that they hope few citizens will take notice of, the Republican legislative leadership publicly noticed this action late Friday afternoon after all of Wisconsin had begun the Memorial Day weekend holiday.

On Wednesday, May 31st, in the Capitol, the Assembly Committee on Federalism and Interstate Relations plans to vote on AJR 21 and several other misguided measures calling for a Constitutional Convention to develop a balanced budget amendment and what is called an "Article V Convention of the States" for the stated purpose of adding that balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

A convention like this has never been called and assembled before in our nation's history and it could be a very destructive and dangerous event. A convention of this type could go well beyond a balanced budget measure and go on to alter or eliminate citizen rights currently protected by the Constitution. Voting rights, civil rights, women's rights, an end to democracy and freedom itself. The possibilities are endless.

Wisconsin could become the 29th or 30th out of 34 states needed to call for a convention if these measures clear the Legislature.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published this excellent editorial earlier this year denouncing this dangerous proposal. The Journal Sentinel also published this informative guest editorial written by national Common Cause President, Karen Hobert Flynn.

Common Cause in Wisconsin's testimony against this proposal is here.

What citizens can and must do: Contact both your State Senator and your State Representative and tell them to oppose the call for a dangerous, Article V Constitutional Convention! If you are not sure who your state legislators are, go here.

Here’s the information on the May 31 executive session. In addition to your own state legislators, contacting the member of the committee and weighing in against this dangerous assault on the Constitution, would be helpful.
Date
Wed May 31

Committee
Assembly - Committee on Federalism and Interstate Relations

Executive Session
1:00 PM
North Hearing Room (2nd Floor North)

Never surrender. Never give in. Forward!





CONTACT:

Jay Heck
608/256-2686 (office)
608/512-9363 (cell)




Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI  53703
608/256-2686

Want Good Government?
Join Common Cause in Wisconsin!
www.CommonCauseWisconsin.org



Read More...