Those challenging Wisconsin’s 2011 legislative redistricting expressed optimism Tuesday morning about about their chances of success, after the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case.
The state is asking the high court to overturn a decision last year by a panel of three federal judges, who ruled the maps drawn by Republicans were an unconstitutional gerrymander. The court sided with those challenging the maps, who argued the district lines give the GOP an unfair advantage by limiting the weight of votes cast by Democrats on the outcome of elections.
Following the hearing, Gerry Hebert, an attorney for plaintiffs in the case, told a crowd outside that it’s about fairness, justice, and Democracy. “People and voters get to choose who represents them, instead of politicians choosing and cherry-picking which voters they like and which voters they don’t like,” he said.
Former Republican California governor and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger joined those gathered outside the court, where he echoed calls to put an end to partisan gerrymandering. “It is time to terminate gerrymandering,” Schwarzenegger said, drawing cheers from the crowd.
Republicans have maintained that the maps were legally drawn and have asked the Supreme Court to uphold them. Wisconsin Solicitor General Misha Tseytlin said questions from multiple justices showed they were wary about the potential fallout from the decision on maps drawn by Legislature’s across the country. “It’s easy enough when politicians draw maps to accuse them of being political,” he said. “That will happen in every case, there will be a long expensive trial…and there will be an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court – and I think justices were rightly skeptical about that kind of world.”
It could be several months before justices announce a decision in the case. If the Supreme Court sides with previous rulings, Wisconsin could be ordered to have new district maps in place ahead of the 2018 election.