Plaintiff's Lawyer Discusses Supreme Court Gerrymandering Case In KZYX's "Politics: A Love Story"

Jun 22, 2017

On Friday June 16, 2017, Politics: A Love Story host Bob Bushansky interviewed Ruth Greenwood, an attorney with The Campaign Legal Center who is part of the legal team representing plaintiffs in Gill v Whitford, a major legal challenge to an alleged case of political gerrymandering in Wisconsion. On Monday, June 19, Greenwood's team received notification that Gill v Whitford will be heard by the U S Supreme Court during the term that starts the first Monday in October. The Campaign Legal Center is representing the plaintiffs against the state of Wisconsin regarding extreme partisan district gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is making up Congressional or state districts that give partisan advantage to the political party making up the districts. In the interview with KZYX, Greenwood explains that that in Federal District Court, by a vote of 2 to 1, the justices said that the districting map made by the Republican controlled legislature “was designed to make it  more difficult for Democrats, compared to Republicans, to translate their votes into seats.” Greenwood said that because of the way the districts were drawn, the Republicans took 60 of the 99 seats (60.6%) despite receiving only 48.6% of the vote in 2012. Most of the redistricting cases that the Supreme Court hears involve the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, which is usually about racial discrimination in the drawing of districts. Greenwood and the the Gill v Whitford team are claiming a 1st Amendment abuse in Wisconsin’s drawing of their districts because they are denying the voices of the minority (Democrats) to be heard equally. She also pointed out that the team developed what they call an “efficiency gap”, a mathematical formula that shows unfairness by the numbers. Greenwood said that an efficiency gap of greater than 7% was wasting votes of both the winners and losers in the race to political office. In 2012 Wisconsin’s efficiency gap was 13.3% and in 2014 9.6%. Greenwood talked about a previous gerrymandering case from 2004, Veith v Jubelirer, where Justice Anthony Kennedy lamented that, “No one has come up with a workable standard to decide when political gerrymandering has crossed a constitutional line”. The “efficiency gap” formula may be that standard. 

Click here to listen to the entire interview.