Rep. David S. Olsen Joins Bipartisan Lawmakers from Eight States in Effort to End Gerrymandering of Political Maps

State Representative David S. Olsen (R-Downers Grove) has joined a bipartisan coalition of 65 lawmakers from eight states who are taking the case against gerrymandered political maps to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A brief urging the Court to invalidate the practice of political gerrymandering was filed this week in Washington, D.C. The bipartisan group of current and former state legislators made its argument as amici in Gill v Whitford, a redistricting case that challenges the legitimacy of political gerrymandering, and could have a profound effect on the nation’s electoral and political process in the future. The case will be argued before the Supreme Court on October 3, 2017.

“Gerrymandered political maps essentially silence voters and weaken our system of democracy,” said Olsen. “Through gerrymandered maps, majority party politicians are able to draw district boundaries that protect their party majority status. Not only do they draw maps so they can choose who they represent, they also draw districts that pit incumbents from minority parties against each other, thus strengthening majority party power.”

Written by the law firm of Holwell Shuster & Goldberg LLP of New York, the brief states that political gerrymandering represents a grave threat, and has “sounded the death knell of bipartisanship.” A total of 26 Republicans and 39 Democrats from Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Maryland are joining forces for the suit. Twelve Illinois Senators and five Illinois State Representatives are part of the coalition.

“We are honored to represent this large group of Democratic and Republican legislators who have united to oppose a grave threat to our democratic system of governance, the destructive effects of which they have experienced firsthand,” said Vincent Levy, the counsel of record to the legislators at the Supreme Court. “In joining together, these current and former lawmakers have taken a brave stand to urge the Court to protect American democracy from erosion by unchecked partisanship and tribalism.”

In Gill v. Whitford, Wisconsin state officials are appealing a lower court ruling that the state’s redistricting plan went to such extremes in its political gerrymandering that it violated protections given to voters by the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

“I believe there is no political tool that has corrupted our democracy more than modern-day gerrymandering,” Olsen said. “In our data-driven society, political leaders have taken a scalpel to maps to ensure their political advantage. Fair representation has become a thing of the past as majority party legislators protect themselves from any real accountability to voters.”

Joining Olsen as part of the Illinois contingency in the suit are Illinois Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady (R-Bloomington), State Senators Michael Connelly (R-Naperville), Dan McConchie (R- Hawthorn Woods), Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles), Chris Nybo (R-Elmhurst), Sue Rezin (R-Peru), Dale Righter (R-Mattoon), Chapin Rose (R-Champaign), Ira Syverson (R-Rockford), Heather Steans (D-Chicago), Jil Tracy (R-Quincy), and Chuck Weaver (R-Peoria), and State Representatives Scott Drury (D-Highwood), Mike Fortner (R-West Chicago), Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) and Bob Pritchard (R-Hinckley).

“The Illinois map is a prime example of extreme gerrymandering,” added Olsen. “We must end this practice, so voters can choose their representatives and not the other way around.”

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