February 24, 2017
Today, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel notified the U.S. Supreme Court that he was appealing the landmark decision of a federal district court that had ruled that the district maps drawn by Republican legislative leaders in 2011 were unconstitutional.
The move by Schimel on this gerrymandering case is not a surprise, but it is not welcome. Nor is the recent hiring of ridiculously expensive lawyers by the Republican legislative leadership. They’re paying one lawyer $100,000 to write up a single amicus brief. If it takes him 20 hours to do, that's $5,000 an hour. And they’re paying another law firm $300 an hour for an unlimited number of hours to work on another such brief.
Schimel is wasting our tax dollars. And the Republican legislators are wasting our tax dollars.
Instead of appealing the decision by the court, which showed incontrovertible evidence of blatant partisan gerrymandering, the legislators should do what the court told them to do: Go back to the drawing board and figure out how to come up with a fair map.
What’s more, they ought to do it in public this time. This is, after all, the public’s business. The legislators need to hold public hearings and take public comment on this essential task.
Remember how they did it last time, in 2011? They didn’t even draw the maps in the Capitol. Instead, they snuck off to the private offices of the pricey law firm Michael Best & Friedrich, where they drew the maps in a secret, locked room which they named “the Map Room.”
The media wasn’t allowed in.
The public wasn’t allowed in.
The Democrats weren’t allowed in.
And the rank-and-file Republican legislators had to ask permission of their leaders’ staff to get inside the locked door to see how their own districts were being redrawn.
On top of that, once inside “the Map Room,” they had to sign an oath of secrecy!
This is not how the people’s business is supposed to be conducted.
If you have Republican legislators, please urge them to do their job: Don’t waste our money; instead, start drawing fair maps now, and do it in public.
You can contact your state legislators or Assembly Speaker Vos and Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald by calling this toll-free legislative hotline at 1-800-362-9472 (call 266-9960 in Madison). If you don’t know your legislators, click here.