Republicans are lining up to urge the U.S. Supreme Court to rein in the Wisconsin GOP’s abuse of the map-drawing process. But a famous California Republican says blue states are just as guilty of map-rigging as their red-state counterparts.
The partisan mapping practice in Wisconsin was struck down by lower courts in the case Gill v. Whitford. The lower court said the state GOP manipulated the legislative maps to gain a majority. Now, a group of high-profile Republicans is urging the Supreme Court to uphold the lower court’s ruling.
The list of Republicans that signed a “friend-of-the-court” brief is long. It includes presidential candidates Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, Sens. Bob Dole of Kansas and John McCain of Arizona, and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The former body builder and action movie star said Wednesday that abuse of the map-drawing process, such as what happened in Wisconsin, has kept competition out of politics for years.
“With no need for competition, the seats are fixed and they don’t really need to perform,” Schwarzenegger said, adding that lawmakers vote much more ideologically when the only competition incumbents may receive is from a primary challenge.
But blue states are just as guilty of adjusting the political maps to leverage their hold on the majority in their respective legislatures, Schwarzenegger said.
“When Democrats have the power, they gerrymander like in Maryland or Illinois,” he said.
Two independent efforts to change how Illinois redraws its maps after new U.S. Census data is released every 10 years have been ruled unconstitutional by state judges. Gerrymandered districts drawn by Democrat House Speaker Michael Madigan often are blamed for the lack of competitive General Assembly races. For example, Just 46 of the 118 Illinois House races on the November 2016 ballot were contested. Of those, only a few were competitive.
Plaintiffs lawyers say that there would likely be a challenge in Illinois should the court rule in their favor in the Wisconsin case.
Former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar and Lt. Governor Corinne Wood also signed on in support of the brief.
The court is scheduled to hear the case in October.
The full brief can be read here.