Dear Editor: As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagen closed her now famous dissent with “deep sadness,” she included us in gerrymandered Wisconsin. All of us "unfavored" ones around this state have a tough task ahead of us. For our November 2020 election we are already boxed in by the 2011 redistricting. In 2010, political strategist Karl Rove took to the Wall Street Journal a plan to win majorities across the country. Wisconsin was a target. It is the Legislature after November 2020 election (based on those same gerrymandered districts) that will determine the voting maps for 2021 and for decades to come.

Kagen in her dissent spoke clearly: “Everything possible has been done to make” our task of breaking gerrymandering hard. Dominant party bosses want to stay in office more than they want us to vote our preferences. She asked, “Is it conceivable that someday voters will be able to break out of that prefabricated box?” She answered herself, “Sure. But everything possible has been done to make that hard ... The practices challenged in these cases imperil our system of government.” She was acknowledging us when she wrote: “the partisan gerrymanders here debased and dishonored our democracy, turning upside down the core American idea that all governmental power derives from the people ... These gerrymanders enabled politicians to entrench themselves in office as against voters’ preferences ... If left unchecked, gerrymanders like the ones here may irreparably damage our system of government.”

Kagen quotes from Wisconsin’s Gill v. Whitford case, “Partisan gerrymandering operates through vote dilution — the devaluation of one citizen’s vote as compared to others. A mapmaker draws district lines to ‘pack’ and ‘crack’ voters likely to support the disfavored party."

But we have hope to imagine a future of voter rights and we gather with others to take steps toward democracy.

Mary Kay Baum


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