Hoping Illinois’ blatant partisan legislative district map making process will someday be ruled unconstitutional by the Courts, State Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) attached his name Sept. 5 to an Amicus Curie brief filed in the United States Supreme Court. Rose joined a group of current and former legislators from around the country in supporting a U.S. District court’s decision in Whitford v. Gill that the State of Wisconsin used partisan gerrymandering to create the state’s legislative district map.
Rose says it’s important to have Illinois representation on the brief, because if the U.S. Supreme Court finds Wisconsin did use partisan gerrymandering, then the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision could potentially also be used to strike down political gerrymandering in Illinois as well. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to take up the case later this year.
“Illinois is the poster child for the negative definition of gerrymandering,” Rose said. “Districts in Illinois are drawn more like jigsaw puzzle pieces to capitalize on one thing: political power. The Democrats holding the pen to draw Illinois’ map have unfairly manipulated and drawn the districts strictly for their advantage. But this is not about partisanship. It’s quite the opposite, as it is abused by both parties across the nation. I hope the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision will rid Illinois of this partisan process of politicians picking their constituents and instead give us the legal tools necessary for the citizens to take their government back.”
The Amicus brief itself points out that “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.”
Rose noted that Illinois citizens have already tried to eliminate the partisan mapmaking process. In 2016, a ballot initiative seeking to give mapmaking power to an independence commission instead of legislators was struck down 4-3 by the Illinois Supreme Court that voted along strict party lines, with Democrats voting to strike it down. The lawsuit to stop the Fair Maps initiative was filed by an attorney associated with House Speaker Michael Madigan.
“This is exactly why we need the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and give us some clear ground rules and bring an end to this poisonous process that has grossly distorted our great democracy,” Rose said. “People should pick their politicians, not the other way around.”