Redrawing district boundaries isn’t new — it is required by law, to ensure that population and demographic shifts are accurately represented in Congress — nor is gerrymandering utilized exclusively by Republicans. But the issue at hand is intent: Redistricting becomes gerrymandering when voters are packed, stacked and cracked to amplify certain voices and silence others.
I have been on the front lines in the battle against extreme gerrymandering for quite some time, both as a Wisconsin state senator and as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2012, I joined local elected officials and immigrant rights advocates in a different gerrymandering lawsuit against efforts by Wisconsin Republicans to dilute a prominent Latino district on Milwaukee’s South Side — a community I proudly represent in Congress — by splitting it in two. A three-judge panel, two of whom were appointed by Republican presidents, ruled the assembly districts to be unconstitutional as they violated the Voting Rights Act by targeting my Latino constituents.
As if infringing upon the voting rights of communities of color wasn’t bad enough, Wisconsin Republicans did so behind closed doors, drawing ire from the judges who presided over the matter. They chastised the process, calling it “needlessly secret, regrettably excluding input from the overwhelming majority of Wisconsin citizens,” and determined “the final product needlessly moved more than a million Wisconsinites and disrupted their long-standing political relationships.”
Take it from retired bank robber Clay Tumey: If you want to rob a bank without getting caught, keep your mouth shut. He’s right: Secrecy is a vital component in any successful heist, and the same can be said when you’re trying to steal an election.
When one group’s voting power is corrupted, it corrupts our entire electoral system. We deserve a political process where voters handpick their leaders, not the other way around. Now, the Supreme Court has an opportunity to help Wisconsin end this corrosive process and restore equal representation in our body politic. At this critical juncture in our nation’s history, we need a reminder that our votes to matter, not another reminder of “who isn’t and who is in power.”
Congresswoman Gwen Moore was elected to represent Wisconsin’s 4th Congressional District in 2004, making her the first African American elected to Congress from the State of Wisconsin.