“Wisconsin’s gerrymander was one of the most aggressive of the decade, locking in a large and implausibly stable majority for Republicans in what is otherwise a battleground state,” said redistricting expert Thomas Wolf of the Brennan Center. “It’s a symptom of politics going haywire and something that we increasingly see when one party has sole control of the redistricting process.”
Under the Wisconsin redistricting plan, Republicans were able to amplify their voting power, gaining more seats than their percentage of the statewide vote would suggest. For example, in 2012, the Republican Party received about 49 percent of the vote but won 60 of the 99 seats in the state Assembly. In 2014, the party garnered 52 percent of the vote and 63 state Assembly seats.
After winning control of the state legislature in 2010, Wisconsin Republicans redraw the statewide electoral map and approved the redistricting plan in 2011.
A dozen Wisconsin Democratic Party voters filed suit in 2015 against state election officials over the redistricting, saying the Republican-backed plan divided Democratic voters in some areas and packed them in others in order to dilute their electoral clout and benefit Republican candidates.
After a trial last year, the district court panel agreed, invalidating the restricting plan statewide. It said redistricting efforts are unlawful partisan gerrymandering when they seek to entrench the party in power, and have no other legitimate justification.
The court ordered a redrawing of political districts be in place by Nov. 1 of this year, in time for the next state election in Wisconsin in 2018.
The state appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the recent Wisconsin election results favoring Republicans “is a reflection of Wisconsin’s natural political geography” with Democrats concentrated in urban areas like Milwaukee and Madison.