Boots & Sabers

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1547, 08 Mar 22

High court rules on redistricting

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a sample:

Given that the process directly impacts every politician in the state, except those who are elected statewide, politicians get very worked up about it. Almost nobody else cares even though they should.




The ruling by the high court was written by Justice Brian Hagedorn. As the only man on the court, Hagedorn has taken it upon himself to be the court’s fulcrum with three conservative women justices on one side and three leftist women justices on the other. What is impossible to discern is any guiding judicial philosophy by Hagedorn. It is not fair to call him a juridical conservative or a judicial liberal because his decision making is not consistent enough to divine a coherent philosophy.


In reading the decision written by Hagedorn, which I encourage everyone to do, it reminded me of something written by a high school sophomore. His childlike arguments were not rooted in law or precedent, but in his own personal sense of fairness. He whimsically brushes away law when admitting that his invented, “parties struggled with reconciling it (the court’s invented “least change” rubric) with the United States Constitution, Wisconsin Constitution, and Voting Rights Act.” They struggled to reconcile it because it is unreconcilable, yet Hagedorn persisted.

There are two major things wrong with Evers’ maps — one legal and one political. The legal problem is that, as Hagedorn’s ruling explains in great detail, Governor Evers determined district lines based on race. Using race to decide district lines is unconstitutional unless it is done to remedy a previous racial injustice, which no one has alleged. In this respect, Evers’ maps are a clear violation of the 14th Amendment.


When the 14th Amendment was written after the Civil War, it was designed to prevent racist white citizens from bottling up black citizens into a few districts to minimize their political power. Yet, this is precisely what Evers and Hagedorn did. Evers used racial considerations to create one more majority-black Assembly district by diluting black Wisconsinites’ voice in other districts.


1547, 08 March 2022


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