“Fair Maps is how democracy works – that’s the foundation of our democracy, right? Accurate representation in our legislature will truly get what people want in our state done.” – Nathaniel Slack, Wisconsin Assembly District 96 voter and plaintiff in Clarke v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, is one of five plaintiffs featured in a new video.
There are 19 plaintiffs in Clarke v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, the original action filed by Law Forward and co-counsels on Aug. 2, 2023, with the Wisconsin State Supreme Court. In an incredibly important step in the fight forward for fair maps, on Oct. 10, 2023 the Wisconsin Supreme Court took jurisdiction and on Oct. 16, 2023 Law Forward filed a brief that lays out our claims regarding continuity and the separation of powers.
Wisconsin’s constitution requires that all districts be contiguous – meaning they cannot be made up of separate pieces of detached territory. Over half of Wisconsin’s current districts violate this basic provision of adjoining communities. In addition, we believe the current maps violate Wisconsin Constitution because these maps are the exact ones that the governor vetoed in November of 2021, a veto which the Legislature tried and failed to override. These Court imposed maps violate Wisconsin’s separation-of-powers principles and the governor’s constitutional authority to veto bills.
As Rebecca Clarke, Assembly District 26, noted “It’s absolutely frustrating to sit with your neighbors and people are confused about who represents them. It’s not contiguous, there’s all these weird little pockets – the western edge of my map wasn’t even a road.”
Most of us believe that all Wisconsinites, no matter who we are or where we’re from, deserve an equal voice and an equal say in electing leaders whose decisions impact our lives. We define our communities, communities set their own boundaries, and every community gets an equal say. But that’s not what’s happened with our districts today: our current maps carve up our communities so a few voices drown out the needs and beliefs of the majority, and the voices of those few have rigged the rules so what only they say goes.
As Tia Johnson, Assembly District 31 and plaintiff featured in this video, noted “I would rather have us be cohesive, unified – even with our differences – this community is very diverse politically, but we get along. We’re neighbors.” She goes on to say, “I have the right to be involved in my government, the right to be heard – I just want it to be fair.”
The personal stories of the plaintiffs featured in this video underscore the goal of this suit: everyone, and everyone means everyone – no exceptions – deserves to have their voices heard by those who make decisions on our behalf. No one should be silenced because of where they live, what they look like, or who they voted for – and that’s why we’re in court fighting for fair maps.