Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Point-Counterpoint: New Republican redistricting bill

Redistricting bill comes amid talks of Supreme Court impeachment, but may also be a step towards fair maps
Marissa Haegele

Republicans have recently introduced a bill that would give a nonpartisan body the power to redistrict legislative maps. As the liberal-majority Supreme Court is expected to hear a case on redistricting in the near future, does this bill represent a suspicious Republican attempt to subvert the Supreme Court or a rare opportunity to fix broken legislative maps?

Point: Democrats should be wary of GOP’s new redistricting bill

The 2011 redistricting resulted in Wisconsin’s status as one of the most gerrymandered states in the country for the next 10 years, according to PBS Wisconsin. In 2021, Gov. Tony Evers and other Democratic lawmakers proposed plans to remodel Wisconsin’s redistricting system to mirror Iowa’s nonpartisan structure, according to the Wisconsin Examiner. Speaker Robin Vos (R-Wis.) turned down these proposals, claiming it would be unconstitutional to hand the Legislature’s power of redrawing maps to bipartisan groups instead, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.


Vos seems to have changed his mind completely in his announcement of the new Republican redistricting bill that delegates redistricting to the same nonpartisan groups who he once condemned as “unelected bureaucrats” according to Wisconsin Public Radio.

It is important to note the new bill is a step forward in the depoliticization of redistricting in Wisconsin. The nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau would be responsible for drawing maps and the Legislature would no longer amend district maps if the bill is passed, according to CNN. This is a similar implementation to what Democrats have suggested for the past few years, and Vos claims it models Iowa’s redistricting system, according to the article.

But, the Iowa State Auditor and former Republican Party of Iowa Chairman pointed out that Wisconsin’s new system is very different from Iowa’s nonpartisan redistricting process. According to Wisconsin Public Radio, Iowa relies upon a judicial review in which the Iowa Supreme Court draws district maps if the legislature cannot come to an agreement by a certain deadline. In Wisconsin, the Supreme Court is removed from the redistricting process.

The bill also coincided with Republicans’ growing threat to impeach Justice Janet Protasiewicz. Vos told WISN-AM passing the redistricting bill was his alternative to the impeachment of Protasiewicz, according to CNN. In other words, impeaching Protasiewicz would remove the liberal majority in the Supreme Court, protecting the Republicans’ gerrymandered maps. Instead, the new redistricting bill similarly revokes the Supreme Court’s power to reject Republican-drawn maps, handing the power to nonpartisan groups.

It seems as though Vos is interested in nonpartisan redistricting only when the Republican Party could benefit. The Republican Party’s historical dismissal of Evers’ efforts for nonpartisan redistricting supports that the party’s ultimate goal is not to depoliticize redistricting.

Vos claims he changed his initial view after listening to calls for nonpartisan redistricting. If this were the case, Vos would not have rushed the bill by voting on it less than 48 hours after it was proposed, as according to WISN. If he truly wished to accommodate the Democrats’ demands, Vos would have held a public hearing and consulted with the Democrats who have been fighting for such a change since 2011.

According to the Wisconsin State Legislature, public hearings allow legislators, field experts, and the general public to voice their opinions and suggest amendments to proposed bills. Republicans’ failure to host a public hearing suggests that they aren’t as open to feedback as they claim to be.

Point-counterpoint: ChatGPT’s role as therapy alternative

This bill may be a step forward in depoliticizing redistricting, but it cannot be viewed as a precedent for further progressive proposals on behalf of Republican lawmakers.

Moving towards nonpartisan redistricting may have served as a common ground between the political parties if the Republicans were more transparent and thorough with the bill. It is reasonable for Democrats to be skeptical of Republicans’ true motivation behind the surprise policy change.

Aanika Parikh ([email protected]) is a sophomore studying molecular and cell biology.

Counterpoint: Democrats should capitalize on reforms they have been fighting years to achieve

It’s obvious. Wisconsin’s rigged electoral maps are responsible for the extreme swing in partisan power in state government. As recently as 2008, Democrats held the majority in the State Senate according to BallotPedia. Now, Republicans outnumber Democrats two to one.

This isn’t because GOP politics suddenly became popular overnight — Democrats still consistently outperform Republicans in statewide elections according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Yet despite redistricting efforts last year, Wisconsin’s electoral maps still heavily favor Republicans. Wisconsin Democrats have spent years fighting for fair maps according to Fair Maps Wisconsin, and now state Republicans have finally allowed them to achieve just that.

A newly proposed bill in the Assembly would hand over the responsibility of drawing new legislative maps to the nonpartisan Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau. According to the bill text, the bureau would be legally unable to draw up districts that explicitly favor a political party, incumbent legislator or racial group. These maps would then be sent to the Legislature for approval by a simple majority and signed into effect by the governor.

Under the existing redistricting process, the State Legislature is responsible for drawing legislative maps. Clearly, the Republican majority has an incentive to draw maps that only solidify their grip on power. The new bill removes any ability legislators have to draw maps themselves — even if the Legislature votes to reject a proposed map from the Bureau. Experts claim this move towards nonpartisanship represents a marked improvement, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Point-counterpoint: Platforming controversial speakers

This move, however, comes at a sensitive time in state politics. The liberal majority on the Supreme Court may soon hear a case involving redistricting. Democrats claim the introduction of this bill is an attempt by Republicans to sidestep a likely-unfavorable ruling against Wisconsin’s gerrymandered maps, according to the Wisconsin Examiner.

Democrats should be unbothered by the optics of the proposed reforms. Allowing the Legislature an opportunity to keep itself in check through this bill, rather than heighten an existing feud between the Legislature and the Supreme Court is significant.

The Legislature is very powerful — including holding enough votes to impeach Protasiewicz before she has heard a single case. If Republicans decide to follow through with impeachment, the governor might not have the chance to appoint a new liberal justice to hear a case on redistricting before the 2024 elections. Taking the legislative approach to ending gerrymandering would ease dangerous tension and guarantee a pathway to secure fair maps for the people of Wisconsin.

The polarization and gridlock of the two-party system, especially in Wisconsin, has resulted in a state government that does not represent the people in a literal or ideological sense. Democrats should put their ruthless skepticism aside and take the chance to reform maps while the opportunity is still ripe.

Jack Rogers ([email protected]) is a sophomore studying Chinese and economics.

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