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League of Women Voters

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 12, 2006
11:35 AM

CONTACT: League of Women Voters
Sara Conrath of the League of Women Voters, 202-263-1332 or sconrath@lwv.org

 
League of Women Voters Takes Aim at Partisan Redistricting
 

WASHINGTON - January 12 - As a part of its Democracy Agenda, the League of Women Voters has called on the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the partisan gerrymander imposed on the citizens of Texas in 2003.

In an amicus curiae, or "friend of the court" brief the League of Women Voters of the United States and the League of Women Voters of Texas argue that the Texas legislature's mid-census redistricting was unconstitutional because it was carried out solely to achieve partisan advantage. The law firm of Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Dorr LLP prepared the brief on behalf of the League. The Court will hear arguments in the case, LULAC v. Perry, on March 1.

"Partisan gerrymandering undermines the basic principles of representative government," according to Kay J. Maxwell, president of the national League. "The Texas League fought this plan when it was presented, and we are proud to join with them in asking the Court to overturn it. Partisan gerrymandering subverts the democratic system because it allows politicians to choose their voters, rather than vice versa. This turns representative government upside-down," Maxwell said.

The Texas mid-census redistricting case involves the threshold decision of whether to redistrict at all and not just a decision about how to draw the lines in a redistricting plan. While acknowledging that redistricting policy necessarily has an effect on election outcomes, the League in its brief urges the Court to decide that "there is a stark difference in kind between, on the one hand, relying on neutral considerations that incidentally affect partisan outcomes and, on the other, adopting exclusively partisan criteria for which specific partisan outcomes are the goal."

By filing this brief the League of Women Voters continues its long history of fighting against attacks on the basic constitutional right to fair and equal representation guaranteed to all citizens by the Constitution. Leagues have worked vigorously across the country to secure representative redistricting plans in their states after each census and are seeking reforms to assure that the redistricting process is nonpartisan, equitable and open. These are core rights for citizens of a free and democratic nation.

The League's Democracy Agenda is an advocacy and public education program to strengthen and renew the basic tenets of American democracy. This effort seeks to protect our electoral processes through election reform and campaign finance reform, advance our representative government through nonpartisan redistricting, and preserve our constitutional rights by safeguarding civil liberties.

The brief is available on the League's Web site http://www.lwv.org

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