Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law’s Statement on Gill v. Whitford Oral Arguments


OCTOBER 3, 2017

The Lawyers’ Committee filed an Amicus Brief in the Landmark Redistricting Case

Washington, D.C. – Today, Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, delivered remarks at the Rally to End Partisan Gerrymandering in front of the U.S. Supreme Court during oral arguments in Gill v. Whitford. The Lawyers’ Committee filed an amicus curiae or “friend of the court” brief in this complicated case challenging the 2011 Wisconsin State Assembly redistricting plan, which brings to the forefront important questions regarding electoral map making and the ability of voters to have an influence in their representation.  In Wisconsin, the redistricting map was struck down by a three-judge federal court panel for imposing “burdens on the representational rights of Democratic voters” in gerrymandered districts.  While the Supreme Court has ruled that racial gerrymandering is unconstitutional, it has not provided clear guidance regarding partisan gerrymandering.

Clarke, who attended today’s hearing, made the following statement:

“While some of the Justices expressed concern about the floodgates of litigation opening, other Justices were focused on the measurable threat presented by gerrymandering and its impact on the integrity of American democracy.  It is time for the Court to act now and rule unequivocally that cases of extreme partisan gerrymandering are subject to judicial review.  Gill v. Whitford is a clear example of an electoral map drawn by one party in control of its state legislature in a way that maximizes its partisan advantage.  The extreme partisanship at issue in Gill v. Whitford presents strong facts for the Court to provide rules that can help guide the efforts of lawmakers.  This case is particularly important as a ruling may provide needed clarity for lawmakers as they prepare for the 2020 redistricting cycle.”

In considering a remedy to address partisan gerrymandering, the Lawyers’ Committee filed an amicus brief. The brief, filed with the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, highlights a racial and partisan gerrymandering case filed by the Lawyers’ Committee this year in Georgia.  In that case, plaintiffs claim that the redrawing of lines for Georgia House of Representatives Districts 105 and 111, in 2015, was done with a racially discriminatory purpose to favor the election of white incumbents.  In considering a remedy for partisan gerrymandering, the Lawyers’ Committee brief urges the Supreme Court to adopt a standard applicable to partisan gerrymandering sufficiently flexible so as to apply to cases like the Georgia case.

Click here to read the Gill v. Whitford amicus brief filed in the United States Supreme Court by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.