Alaska Joins 16 Other States and D.C. in Taking a Stand Against Unconstitutional Gerrymandering
September 5, 2017
(Anchorage, AK) – Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth today joined Oregon and 15 other states plus the District of Columbia in an amicus brief before the U.S Supreme Court in Gill v. Whitford. In the amicus brief, the states argue that extreme partisan gerrymandering—which occurs when electoral maps are redrawn for the sole purpose of benefitting one political party—violates the Constitution.
“I fully support the Attorney General in signing on to this amicus brief,” said Governor Bill Walker. “Drawing district lines only to maximize one political party’s power, without any other reasonable justification, is a disservice to the voters and to democracy. As I’ve said before, no one party has the monopoly on good ideas, and government needs all the good ideas it can get.”
“People will only participate in a system that they trust,” added Lt. Governor Byron Mallott. “Taking extreme actions to divide up districts for one party’s benefit erodes that trust.”
In the underlying case of Gill v. Whitford, a federal court ruled that a redistricting plan created by the Wisconsin legislature was unconstitutional because it was drawn only for the purpose of keeping the dominant political party in power. The amicus brief recognizes that political considerations can play a legitimate role in the redistricting process, which must take place every ten years to ensure that electoral maps are consistent with the most recent census data. The brief also recognizes that many states have experimented with ways to reduce the influence of partisanship in the redistricting process.
"This is an important topic for our entire country," said Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth. "I signed on to the brief because I believe it strikes the right balance between protecting each state’s political process while also setting forth a clear standard so that courts can prevent the worst abuses.”
The states’ brief argues that a redistricting plan is an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander only if it was chosen for the purpose of maximizing a political party’s advantage and would have the effect of entrenching the party in power for several election cycles even if the party lost popular support. The brief goes on to conclude that under this standard, Wisconsin’s current redistricting plan is unconstitutional.
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