Wisconsinites buoyed by Supreme Court ruling on prison-based gerrymandering
Court rules that states can adjust redistricting data to better reflect their populations; now will Wisconsin end prison-based gerrymandering?
by Leah Sakala, July 9, 2012
After the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding Maryland’s 2010 law ending prison-based gerrymandering, Maryland residents could breathe a sigh of relief. But a great Wisconsin Pubic Radio piece points out that the ruling from the highest court in the nation unquestionably affirming states’ ability to adjust Census redistricting data establishes an important precedent for other states as well.
As Wisconsin Public Radio’s Shawn Johnson reports,
It’s a change some lawmakers, including Milwaukee Democratic Rep. Fred Kessler, wanted to make in Wisconsin a few years ago. Kessler says the court’s ruling shows there’s nothing in the Constitution that prevents it, “If the plan were adopted, I think it would hold up at this point. I think now we’ve been tested.”
Currently, prison-based gerrymandering skews Wisconsin’s districts on both the state and local levels, but the the effects are especially dramatic in city and county governments. 80% of the people counted in one Juneau County district, for example, is behind bars. That means that two actual residents of the district with the prison now given as much say in county affairs as 10 residents in any other district. This is hardly in compliance with the constitutional principle of “one person, one vote.”
Hopefully the green light from the Supreme Court will encourage Wisconsin to follow in the footsteps of Maryland, New York, Delaware, and California and bring an end to prison-based gerrymandering once and for all.