Clarke v. Wisconsin Elections Commission
On Wednesday, August 2nd, 2023 Law Forward – along with co-counsels Stafford Rosenbaum, Election Law Clinic at Harvard Law School, Campaign Legal Center, and Arnold & Porter – filed a Petition to the Supreme Court of Wisconsin to take jurisdiction of an original action to challenge the gerrymandered state legislative maps.
As Jeff Mandell noted, “In the past 12 years, one political party captured the Legislature and has insulated itself from being answerable to the voters. Despite the fact that our legislative branch is meant to be the most directly representative of the people, the gerrymandered maps have divided our communities, preventing fair representation. This has eroded confidence in our political system, suppressed competitive elections, skewed policy outcomes, and undermined democratic representation. We have endured 12 years of rule by right-wing interests, and the voters of Wisconsin deserve fair representation.”
The existing legislative maps are an extreme partisan gerrymander that violates various parts of the Wisconsin Constitution.
The Petitioners are voters – citizens of this state who seek to exercise their rights to speak freely, band together to advocate political beliefs, and obtain equal representation through the ballots they cast in lawfully drawn districts. This case is about ending the systematic silencing of voters across the state as punishment for daring to think, believe, and vote differently from a group of politicians who won a single election thirteen years ago and then set out to entrench themselves into power permanently, the state’s Constitution– and the rights of its residents– be damned.
Since 2012, even when Democrats have won as much as 53% of the statewide vote, they have held no more than 39 of the 99 Assembly seats. In the same period, even when Republicans have won as little as 44.8% of the statewide vote, they have held no fewer than 60 of the 99 Assembly seats. As intended by the 2011 partisan gerrymander, voting for state legislative districts has no effect on political party control of the state legislature and, therefore, constrains the ability of the people of the State of Wisconsin to effect legislative outcomes by electing representatives of their choice who reflect their preferred policies.
As a result of the legislature’s effort to punish certain voters for their political expression and favor others, in the November 2022 election, Republicans won 64 of 99 Assembly seats and saw victories that yielded them 22 of 33 senate seats– a supermajority in the Senate and close to one in the Assembly. At the same time, Democratic candidates won three of five statewide elections.
By every metric, Wisconsin’s legislative plans score among the most – if not the most– skewed in the nation.
Redistricting & Fair Maps
Supreme Court of Wisconsin
August 2, 2023
August 30, 2023
We filed a response to the respondent’s request that Justice Protasiewicz recuse herself from the Clarke vs. WEC case regarding gerrymandering in Wisconsin.
In the past 12 years, right-wing interests have operated in Wisconsin with no accountability to the voters. Despite the fact that our assembly and senate are meant to be the most direct representatives of the people, the gerrymandered maps have divided our communities preventing fair representation. This has eroded confidence in our electoral systems, suppressed competitive elections, skewed policy outcomes, and undermined democratic representation.
September 18, 2023
We filed a supplemental brief at the request of Justice Protasiewicz clearly showing Wisconsin law does not require recusal. It would be a violation of her oath of office and would render meaningless Wisconsin voters’ constitutional right to elect the justice of their choice.
One party should not be able to silence certain voices for their own political gain. Wisconsinites deserve a timely resolution to this matter and fair representation.