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February 25, 2024 1:56 am

Local News

As Trump Case Proceeds, New Legal Fight Looms Over Democracy in WI

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Since 2010, many political analysts have said Wisconsin has had among the most gerrymandered political maps in the nation, resulting in a host of lawsuits and high-profile court decisions. (Adobe Stock)
Since 2010, many political analysts have said Wisconsin has had among the most gerrymandered political maps in the nation, resulting in a host of lawsuits and high-profile court decisions. (Adobe Stock)

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 Mike Moen, Producer

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Thursday, August 3, 2023   

This week’s indictment of former President Donald Trump has renewed calls to protect core functions of democracy.

In Wisconsin, those behind a new lawsuit said their action addresses another threat to a fair election system: partisan gerrymandering.

The liberal organization Law Forward, along with Democratic voters from around the state, has filed a petition with Wisconsin’s Supreme Court to overturn legislative districts drawn by Republicans. The move was expected since an April election shifted the ideological balance of the court.

Jeff Mandell, board president of the group Law Forward, said the redistricting outcomes, which have benefited the GOP for more than a decade, are an affront to democracy.

“Every day that it continues is a violation of the most fundamental rights of every Wisconsinite,” Mandell contended.

Mandell argued if recent gerrymandering seen in the U.S. had been stopped earlier, some of the efforts to undermine the democratic process, such as the allegations in the Trump indictment, might not have come to pass.

Sen. Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, the Senate Majority Leader, responded to the court filing, saying the plaintiffs are counting on a “judicial fiat” to gain power. 

The senator contended the current maps are valid and constitutional.

Mark Gaber, senior director of redistricting at the Campaign Legal Center, pointed out for several years now, Wisconsin’s political maps have been skewed in such a way voters have never had a legitimate chance to elect a Democratic majority for the Legislature.

“Not just the Democratic voters of Wisconsin, but independents and Republicans who might sometimes wish to switch their views in a certain election,” Gaber stressed.

In last year’s election, Republicans won 64 of 99 Assembly seats, along with 22 of 33 state Senate seats, despite Democratic victories in three of five statewide elections.

Currently, the plaintiffs are not asking the court to address Wisconsin’s congressional maps, but it has not been ruled out. Republicans have captured most of the U.S. House districts in Wisconsin.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.