A number of Senate Republican lawmakers joined current and former legislators from around the country to voice their support for fair legislative maps by signing on to an Amicus Curie brief filed in the United States Supreme Court urging the Court to end the practice of political gerrymandering.
Lawmakers made their argument as amici in Gill v Whitford, a redistricting case in which a U.S. District court found that the State of Wisconsin used partisan gerrymandering to create the state’s legislative district map, violating protections given to voters by the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The case will be argued before the Supreme Court on Oct. 3.
The Amicus brief itself points out that “few tools for political entrenchment have corrupted our democracy more than modern-day gerrymandering,” and further notes that “powerful software and detailed, block-by-block voter data enable redistricting plans that give one party huge partisan advantages that survive shifts in voter preferences and demographics.”
Supporters noted it is important the Supreme Court intervene with some clear direction on how we can eliminate political gerrymandering in our state and ensure Illinois residents are no longer shut out of the political process. Additionally, if the Supreme Court finds Wisconsin did use partisan gerrymandering, that decision could play a factor in future efforts to strike down political gerrymandering in Illinois.
Members of the Senate Republican caucus have long argued that partisan gerrymandering can be used as a powerful political tool that interferes with the democratic process and subverts the idea of fair representation. Senate Republicans’ noted that Illinois’ legislative districts are drawn with the purposes of creating and maintaining political power. Through the last redistricting process, Democrats drew Illinois’ map to their advantage, splitting up similar communities while at the same time combining dissimilar communities. They stressed “voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around.”