Wisconsin’s GOP Tries a New Playbook: Intimidating Justices to Uphold Their Sketchy Maps?

Gerrymandering: a dirty little secret that’s been part of America’s political landscape for too long. It’s where parties manipulate district boundaries to secure their seats. But now, the GOP in Wisconsin is taking things to a whole new level.

The scene’s set. Wisconsin’s GOP is actively trying to corner State Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz, a vocal critic of the state’s shady legislative maps. The maps, to say the least, have a history of being weaponized for political advantage. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, however, is hitting back with threats of impeachment if Protasiewicz doesn’t remove herself from any cases that challenge the legitimacy of these maps.

Protasiewicz’s winning streak earlier this year did something revolutionary – it interrupted the conservative 15-year hold on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. During her campaign, she pulled no punches, branding the maps as “rigged,” and rightly pointing out that they simply don’t represent the state’s diverse populace. In her own words, Protasiewicz questioned their fairness and highlighted her values that clearly clash with such manipulative strategies.

But here’s the twist: instead of addressing the glaring issue of gerrymandering, Vos went on the defensive. He suggested that Protasiewicz’s earlier criticisms meant she couldn’t possibly be impartial. Now, does anyone else see the irony here? A party known for redrawing lines in their favor is preaching about impartiality.

Some critics believe that the real reason behind Vos’s veiled threats is quite simple: the GOP is scared. With the balance of power shifting, they’re seeing their once impenetrable fortress show cracks.

The GOP’s consistent reign over the Wisconsin Legislature is evident, as they’ve held the reins for 12 uninterrupted years. It’s worth noting that, theoretically, they have the numbers to impeach in the Assembly, and to even convict in the Senate. Some of the district boundaries they’ve established over the years might remind you more of a Swiss cheese slice than a state map.

This whole political tango can’t be talked about without mentioning the blatant imbalance of power. As highlighted by Stephen Wolf of Daily Kos Elections, despite Democrats winning most statewide races, the GOP’s gerrymandering games have given them two-thirds of seats in the state Senate.

Michael Li, a redistricting and voting expert, put forth a rather chilling perspective. Even if the Senate doesn’t manage to convict Protasiewicz, a mere impeachment would, as per Wisconsin law, prevent her from addressing cases until she’s declared innocent. This could be a strategic move, potentially ensuring the controversial maps stand for the 2024 elections.

In a bid to combat this alleged injustice, a coalition of voting rights groups and law firms, including institutions like the CLC, Law Forward, and the Election Law Clinic at Harvard Law School, are pushing back. They’re demanding a much-needed revision of these gerrymandered maps and calling for special elections for certain state Senate seats.

At the end of the day, Wisconsinites deserve fair representation, and this decade-long game of distorted districts needs to end. Political power plays like this? Not in 2023. The future of politics should be more transparent, inclusive, and just—let’s hope Wisconsin leads the charge.