AG Paxton Files with 16-State Coalition in Amicus Brief Supporting
Wisconsin’s Redistricting Plans
AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton led a 16-state coalition filing a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday in support of Wisconsin’s redistricting maps that were drawn in full compliance with traditional redistricting principles. The outcome of the case could affect elections across the country.
Last year, a panel of three judges in Gill v. Whitford ruled 2-1 that Wisconsin’s 2011 redistricting plan was unconstitutional. That decision was the first from a federal court in more than 30 years to reject a voting map as partisan gerrymandering.
“Never has the U.S. Supreme Court disallowed a legislative map because of partisan gerrymandering, and it surely can’t find fault with Wisconsin’s, which is lawful, constitutional and follows traditional redistricting principles,” Attorney General Paxton said.
In ruling for the plaintiffs in the Wisconsin case, the three-judge panel accepted a fundamentally flawed mathematical formula known as the “efficiency gap” that attempts to measure the level of proportional representation in legislative maps. In his amicus brief, Attorney General Paxton wrote that the formula “does not actually measure vote dilution or distribution in reality, but simply the deviation from a statewide proportional votes-to-seats ratio masked by an additional mathematical formula.”
Texas is joined in the Supreme Court amicus brief by the attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia. The oral arguments for the case are scheduled for the Supreme Court on Oct. 3 and could have a bearing on similar cases across the U.S.
Wisconsin is appealing a January decision by the three-judge panel, which found Wisconsin’s maps were unconstitutional because they were drawn in a way that limited the impact of votes cast by Democrats. The judges ordered the state to draw new district lines before the November 2018 elections, but the U.S. Supreme Court put that process on hold when it agreed to take the case.
Paxton is currently defending Texas against their own redistricting challenge. Judges will determine if Republican lawmakers intentionally discriminated against Latino and black voters in enacting the state’s current House and congressional maps. A panel of three federal judges in San Antonio is expected to rule in the coming weeks.
In 2016, a federal appeals court ruled that Wisconsin Republicans drew district lines that violated the U.S. Constitution. Paxton’s brief argues that letting that decision stand “invites openly partisan policy battles in the courtroom.”
“This will expose every state to litigation under a legal standard so indeterminate that any party that loses in the legislature has a plausible chance of overriding that policy decision in the courts,” the brief states.