On July 8, 2015, a group of Wisconsin voters filed a federal lawsuit challenging Wisconsin's enacted state House redistricting plan as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander designed to disproportionately favor the Republican Party and its candidates by intentionally "packing" and "cracking" Democratic voters to dilute their voting strength. Plaintiffs claimed the plan intentionally discriminated against Democratic voters based on their political affiliation in violation of the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause and the 1st Amendment's Freedom of Speech and Association protections. In an effort to support their claims of partisan bias, plaintiffs introduced evidence analyzing the plan using the "efficiency gap," which they asserted would provide the court with a "workable" standard for measuring partisan gerrymandering claims. They sought a judicial declaration that Wisconsin's state House plan was unconstitutional, an injunction barring the state from utilizing the plan in future elections, and for the court to establish a new, lawful plan in the event the state failed to do so in a timely fashion.

On November 21, 2016 the district court issued its opinion striking down the state House plan as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, finding the plan was intended to burden the representational rights of Democratic voters by diluting their voting strength, the plan had this intended effect, and the plan's discriminatory effects were not explained by Wisconsin's political geography nor justified by any legitimate state interest. The court enjoined the plan from being used in future elections and ordered the state to enact a remedial plan by November 1, 2017. The defendants appealed this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court on February 24, 2017.

On June 18, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling finding the plaintiffs failed to establish Article III standing to pursue their claims in federal court, and thus declining to reach the merits of the case. The Court explained Article III standing requires plaintiffs to establish the challenged action caused them to suffer "concrete and particularized" injury to a "legally protected interest," and here, plaintiffs did not establish the individual harms inflicted upon them by the plan's alleged partisan bias, but instead only established the statewide harms of alleged partisan gerrymandering. Rather than dismissing the case, however, the Court vacated the district court's ruling and remanded the case to allow the plaintiffs an opportunity to prove the requisite injuries to establish standing.

On January 23, 2019 the district court granted a stay on the case pending the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in two consolidated partisan gerrymandering cases pending before it, Rucho v. Common Cause and Benisek v. Lamone. In those cases, the U.S. Supreme Court held partisan gerrymandering claims present non-justiciable political questions which federal courts lack subject matter jurisdiction over, prompting the district court to dismiss this case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on July 2, 2019.


U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin - No. 3:15-cv-421 [Formerly Whitford v. Nichol]

U.S. Supreme Court - No. 16-1161

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin - No. 3:15-cv-421 [On remand]