Plaintiffs Refile in Gill v. Whitford Redistricting Case

Democratic plaintiffs in Gill v. Whitford, the legal challenge to Wisconsin Republicans’ 2010 redistricting map, have refiled their case in district court. A three-judge panel (Chief U.S. District Judge James Peterson, appointed by President Barack Obama; 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Kenneth Ripple, appointed by President Ronald Reagan; and U.S. District Judge William Griesbach, appointed by George W. Bush) will hear the case, which has been renewed with additional plaintiffs and refreshed arguments.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the statewide map. The Court remanded the case to district court, giving the plaintiffs another opportunity to demonstrate concrete injuries to their individual votes.

In their U.S. Supreme Court arguments, the plaintiffs, all Democratic voters from Wisconsin, argued that the map violated their rights to association and equal protection because it unfairly diminished their chances to achieve a majority and resultant legislative outcomes. The map, they said, unfairly gave Republicans a better chance of “translating their votes into seats.”

In defense, the state of Wisconsin argued the plaintiffs lack standing to challenge the entire map. The Court agreed that plaintiffs can only challenge their own voting districts and thus lacked standing for their statewide gerrymandering claim.

To address the standing issue, Democrats added 28 plaintiffs from districts statewide. Their renewed argument is that what they characterize as a gerrymandered map dilutes their votes in their individual districts. Their aggregate claims could force the map to be redrawn.

Wisconsin’s Assembly Democrats have also filed a lawsuit arguing the redistricting infringed upon their First Amendment rights of association. They are seeking to consolidate their case with Gill v. Whitford.

This week, Assembly Republicans filed their own motion to intervene in the lawsuit. If approved, the Assembly would then request a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims.