By Frederick P. Kessler
First, some background: As a Wisconsin legislator I was one of the people who sued the state in 2011, arguing that maps drawn by my Republican colleagues amounted to an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.
It was the case that prompted the Supreme Court to decide last year that federal courts have no role in refereeing such disputes — setting the stage for another set of partisan brawls across the country next year, over the contours of congressional and legislative districts for the rest of the decade.
This week the Republicans retained their solid hold on the Legislature, so they will have the power to unilaterally take the first shot at drawing the new Wisconsin maps. Then the Democratic governor, Tony Evers, will have the power to reject those maps.
In the middle stands the People’s Map Commission, created by the governor this year to come up with new lines “free from partisan bias and partisan advantage.” The nine people have no authority, but Evers hopes their work becomes a compromise acceptable to him and the GOP lawmakers in Madison. If he’s wrong, the stalemate would be broken by maps drawn by the conservative-leaning state Supreme Court.
Here is my proposal for the commission, one that would give us fairer and more competitive districts — two of the chief goals for those of us who want to ban gerrymandering from Wisconsin.