Wednesday, June 27, 2018

It's Up to Us to End Partisan Gerrymandering Since the U.S. Supreme Court Won't Now



For Release: Wednesday - June 27, 2018

The U.S. Supreme Court decided on Monday not to take a North Carolina partisan gerrymandering case, a week after "punting" on Wisconsin's Gill v. Whitford case, and one in Maryland. That means that, for now, it's solely up to us – the citizens of Wisconsin – to continue to move this issue forward and advance the case for establishing a non-partisan redistricting process in Wisconsin for the constitutionally-mandated redistricting process in 2021, which will follow the national Census of 2020.

Last week, the nation's highest court did not rule on the merits of the 2011 Wisconsin legislative district gerrymander, considered one of the most partisan state redistricting processes in the history of the nation. Instead, it side-steeped the issue and sent it back to the federal district court in Wisconsin that had ruled in November, 2016, that the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature's redrawing of district boundaries was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court said, last week, that the original plaintiffs in the case had to show how they were harmed on a district-by-district basis and not solely on a statewide basis.

No one saw that coming. But attorneys for the plaintiffs say they should be able to articulate that harm and bring the case back to the U.S. Supreme Court. That could happen in the next two years – in time for a redrawing of Wisconsin's state legislative districts for the 2020 elections. Or not.

Regardless and in the meantime, CC/WI and other reformers in Wisconsin are determined to press ahead with consideration and enactment of a new, non-partisan redistricting system for Wisconsin to be in place for the 2021 redistricting process based on the non-partisan process that our neighbor Iowa has had in place since 1980.

The establishment of such a system can occur, regardless of what the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately decides in Gill v. Whitford. Do not let any opponent of fair maps tell you that because the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to rule on Gill v. Whitford, the current, corrupt hyper-partisan redistricting process must remain in place. That's a flat out lie.

CC/WI and other reformers – when CC/WI united pro-reform legislators and organizations behind it – have strongly supported "Iowa model" redistricting reform legislation. During the 2017-18 legislative session, it was introduced as Senate Bill 13 and Assembly Bill 44. State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) and State Rep. Don Vruwink (D-Milton) introduced this bipartisan reform legislation that would transform Wisconsin's current hyper-partisan, highly secretive, extremely costly (to we, the taxpayers) redistricting process to one like Iowa's – where a neutral, nonpartisan state agency draws state legislative and congressional voting maps every ten years. This is a system that has the overwhelming support of that state's voters, both political parties, and even of the legislators. This is because it's fair, transparent, impartial and provides voters with real choices in general elections. And it costs taxpayers next to nothing. Wisconsin's current system has none of those qualities or characteristics.

You can continue to advance this reform by continuing to advocate for it with candidates for the State Senate and State Assembly and candidates for statewide office – and by insisting that their support for the Iowa model for Wisconsin will figure mightily in your intention to vote for them or not. That will get their attention.

You can also sign our on-line petition here, if you have not yet done so. If you've signed already, then urge friends and family to do so as well. We have nearly 4,000 signees to date and would love to have over 5,000 to present to the "new" Wisconsin Legislature in early 2019.

And finally, you can inform yourself further about the issue.

Here is CC/WI's statement about the U.S. Supreme Court decision last week in the Wisconsin gerrymandering case, Gill v. Whitford.

Last week, CC/WI joined other reformers at a Capitol rally in support of fair maps and ending gerrymandering.

Video of CC/WI Director Jay Heck's remarks is here
.

To hear Jay Heck's and CC/WI Chair Tim Cullen's remarks on the Supreme Court decision on Milwaukee radio, go here and here.

To see Jay Heck interviewed about gerrymandering on Up Front With Mike Gousha, prior to the Supreme Court decision, go here.

For even more on the decision go here (Wisconsin Gazette) and here (Fox 6 News).

Above all, keep involved, stay engaged and turn up the heat on candidates for public office to support fair maps and end partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin.

We are winning this fight. The U.S. Supreme Court isn't going to lend a helping hand right now, but may later. But we cannot depend on that. It's up to We the People.

On Wisconsin!




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



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Monday, June 18, 2018

U.S. Supreme Court Delays Decision for Now on Wisconsin Gerrymander Court Case



For Release: Monday - June 18, 2018

But the Issue Remains Very Much Alive and In Play Here and Elsewhere

The Supreme Court of the United States this morning issued a decision in which they declined to rule on the merits of Gill v. Whitford, the Wisconsin state legislative gerrymandering case. There was essential agreement by the court that "standing" was at issue in this case, not the merits of the case itself, and that therefore this is not the vehicle in which to judge excessive partisanship as a constitutional matter at this time. The Court said unanimously that they were returning the Wisconsin case to the Federal District Court to give plaintiffs the opportunity to demonstrate specific and concrete harms as a result of partisan gerrymandering.

But the issue is far from "dead," as guardians of the current, corrupt system might hope. The Wisconsin case – as well as one in Maryland and one in North Carolina – could still bring about a favorable decision on ending excessive partisan gerrymandering.

"Today, the U.S. Supreme Court did nothing to address the unconstitutionality of one of the most partisan gerrymanders of state legislative districts (2011) in American history, but we remain hopeful that standing can be addressed and we can win justice in the courts" said Jay Heck, the long-time executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin. “We even more urgently renew our call on the Wisconsin Legislature to replace this broken system with a transparent, non-partisan process modeled after our neighbor, Iowa, in time for the 2021 redistricting cycle, if not before." Heck added.

"I am disappointed with today's non-decision by the U.S. Supreme Court," said Tim Cullen, the Chair of the CC/WI State Governing Board. "But this fight is not over until gerrymandering ends. We must move forward quickly to get fair voting maps in place as soon as possible," he added. Cullen, a former State Senate majority leader, was a leading supporter of non-partisan redistricting reform in the Wisconsin Legislature.





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



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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Stronger Judicial Recusal Rules Needed Now: Before Upcoming WI Supreme Court Election in Early 2019



For Release: Wednesday - June 13, 2018


Wisconsin has the 47th weakest judicial rules in the nation for recusal by judges at all levels with regard to receiving campaign contributions or benefiting from spending by outside special interest groups. Essentially Wisconsin doesn't have any requirement to step aside when it comes to political money.

Judges can decide for themselves whether to step aside, or not.

This "non-rule" is awful because it was written verbatim by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) and the Wisconsin Realtors Association and adopted by a narrow 4 to 3 vote by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2010.

Earlier this year, WMC spent about $1 million to influence the outcome of the Supreme Court election between Rebecca Dallet and Michael Screnock, primarily on scurrilous, nasty and largely untrue ads attacking Dallet. Had Screnock (WMC's anointed candidate) won the election, he would not have been required to recuse himself from a case before the Wisconsin Supreme Court in which WMC was a party. Even though Screnock benefited from $1 million in spending by WMC. That is so absurd it is beyond comprehension or logic.

The urgent need for strong judicial recusal rules was a front-and-center issue in the Dallet-Screnock election. Dallet supported them and Screnock opposed them. Dallet won the election handily in a major upset. Unquestionably, Dallet's support for strong judicial recusal rules helped her, while Screnock's opposition to them hindered his effort.

In less than six months, another election will be underway to fill the Wisconsin Supreme Court seat being vacated, after 42 years, by Justice (and formerly Chief Justice) Shirley Abrahamson. This election will no doubt be mightily contested and millions of dollars will be spent – most by big donors and "outside" special interest groups.

The need for stronger judicial rules for judges at all levels should and will be a central issue again.


To help raise the visibility of this critical issue, CC/WI just released it's third informational video about the role of big campaign contributions and the need for stronger recusal rules. Marquette University Law School Professor Edward Fallone, a candidate for the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2013, does a superb job of framing the issue in this short video. We believe you will like it and learn from it:



Earlier this year, we produced and released two other videos on this issue which we also urge you to watch and share. The first one features former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices Janine Geske and Louis Butler:



The second video, also released earlier this year, features Wisconsin citizens talking about the issue, expressing surprise about how weak our recusal rules are, and saying why they believe we have got to have stronger rules now:



Please feel free to share these widely – with family, friends or complete strangers! Education about issues leads to action and positive change. Be a change agent.

And here is further incentive to be concerned about this issue, if you need it. Currently, Illinois has stronger judicial recusal rules than does Wisconsin. Yes, even Illinois!

That must change.

On Wisconsin!





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



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Thursday, June 7, 2018

Wisconsin Still Waiting for U.S. Supreme Court Decision That May End Hyper-Partisan Gerrymandering



For Release: Thursday June 7, 2018


This past Monday morning, political reform "geeks" – like us at CC/WI – huddled over the U.S. Supreme Court website, eagerly anticipating and expecting the nation's highest court to render its long-anticipated decision in Gill v. Whitford, the case in which a federal court declared that Wisconsin's hyper-partisan, secretive, expensive (to Wisconsin taxpayers) gerrymandered redistricting process in 2011 by the Republicans, was unconstitutional.

In November 2016, a panel of three federal judges said that, in effect, the partisan Republican maps violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution and effectively disenfranchised many voters who voted for Democratic state legislative candidates because – even if a majority of voters voted Democratic – there was no chance that a Democratic legislative majority could be achieved because of the way the voter maps were configured, in secret, and at tremendous cost to Wisconsin taxpayers.

The U.S. Supreme Court accepted the case for consideration and judgment last year and oral arguments were heard last October. Earlier this year, the Court combined the Wisconsin case with a partisan gerrymander by Democrats of a congressional district in Maryland that had long elected a Republican.

Their decision was not handed down last Monday. We are now expecting that the decision could come as soon as this Monday, June 11th.

Last Sunday, CC/WI Director Jay Heck appeared on the statewide ABC public affairs television program: "UpFront With Mike Gousha," to preview this critical decision, and particularly what it means for Wisconsin voters. You can view that segment here.

We will be back on watch this early Monday morning to digest the expected decision and let you know what it means. Stay tuned.




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



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