Rep. Ives joins legal effort to end gerrymandering

Case to be argued in U.S. Supreme Court on October 3
                                                                                                  
WHEATON – State Representative Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) has formally signed an amicus brief in Gill v. Whitford, a case to be argued in the U.S. Supreme Court on October 3 on whether to invalidate the practice of partisan gerrymandering, whereby state politicians draw legislative maps favorable to winning and maintaining control of state government for their own political party after each decennial census.

Ives is one of five members of the Illinois House of Representatives to sign the brief in support of ending gerrymandering once and for all.

“It is long past time that we restore government to the people of Illinois and indeed throughout the country by ending the practice of gerrymandering,” Rep. Ives said. “Republicans and Democrats alike are guilty of perpetrating this cynical and self-serving practice. Few states are as prime examples as Illinois of the devastating impact of politicians choosing their voters by drawing maps that cater to their own political self-interest. The financial ruin and corruption wrought on Illinois taxpayers and families over the past 15 years is a byproduct of allowing career politicians to remain entrenched through their control over the mapmaking process.”

In Gill v. Whitford, Wisconsin state officials are appealing a lower-court ruling that the state’s redistricting plan went to such extremes in its political gerrymandering that it violated protections given to voters by the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

The amicus brief asks the Court to “take this opportunity to effectuate the core principle of republican government, namely, that the voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around.” The brief speaks powerfully to other subjects, including the following:

The Power of Gerrymandering in a Data-Driven World:

“The information age has supercharged partisan gerrymandering. For a long time, the practice was ad hoc and largely ineffective, generating minor effects that were unlikely to persist across election cycles. Today, powerful software and detailed, block-by-block voter data enable redistricting plans that give one party huge partisan advantages that survive shifts in voter preferences and demographics.” (p. 8–9)

The Negative Effects of Gerrymandering on Representational Government:

“[M]odern-day partisan gerrymanders intend to and do subvert the ideal of fair representation. In Amici’s States, recent years have shown that partisan gerrymandering has contributed to a significant breakdown in democratic norms and governance. Legislatures have become ideologically polarized, beset by interpersonal rancor, and responsive only to a fraction of the electorate.” (p. 15)
  
The Need for Judicial Intervention to End Gerrymandering:

“The nature of partisan gerrymandering indeed ensures that it cannot be undone through ordinary politics. Legislators who benefit from the practice have no incentive to halt it, despite ‘the almost universal absence of those who will defend its negative effect on our democracy.’ . . . This state of affairs is self-perpetuating: Whichever political party controls redistricting can draw maps that guarantee it retains power until the next redistricting, at which point it can again draw maps that guarantee it retains power until the next redistricting, and on and on.” (p. 28–29)

For questions or more information, please contact Rep. Ives at (630) 384-9719.

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