rights and wrongs

Voting rights under attack nationally chillingly remind us of what any MAGA presidential administration portends. In the past week or so, several appellate rulings threaten to blow a hole in what remains of Voting Rights Act. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals had recently ruled that Louisiana's electoral map likely violated the statute. But the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals contradicts the 5th Circuit's opinion, ruling for the first time since the Act was passed in 1965 that private individuals and groups — like the ACLU, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and other civil liberty-focused organizations — do not have the right to bring suits seeking to enforce the VRA. Only the US Department of Justice can bring such suits. See the post in Election Law Blog (11-26-2023). Since most voting rights suits have been brought by civic groups or individuals, it follows that a LOT of cases will never be brought if this ruling becomes the law of the land.

Next, a lawsuit "challenging the at-large method used to elect members of the Public Service Commission, which is responsible for regulating public utilities in Georgia. The plaintiffs allege the at-large elections used to select commissioners violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) by diluting Black voting power." On August 5, 2023, a federal judge ruled in favor of the Black voters in Fulton County who had brought the suit. When the case was appealed, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals "stayed" (paused) the trial judge's order. A few more twists and turns in this story ensued but the final outcome is this: "On Nov. 24, the 11th Circuit reversed the district court’s decision, thereby allowing the at-large method to elect members to the Georgia Public Service Commission to stand" (Democracy Docket). If the final ruling is upheld, challenging statewide at-large systems elsewhere will become much more difficult.

Third, on November 28, the Ohio Supreme Court "dismissed a trio of lawsuits challenging the state’s legislative maps, leaving in place gerrymandered districts for 2024" (Democracy Docket). The case had been bouncing back and forth between the legislature and the Supreme Court that, in earlier iterations, had found the maps were consistently in violation of the Ohio constitution. Once the court became more right wing with the election of a new justice, all of those rulings were simply ignored or overruled.

There's a lot more gloomy news, and many more cases all over the country, challenging laws that tend to make voting more difficult or that seek to cement legislative power in one party regardless of the vote share that party receives. And that's the case in Wisconsin. Since the GOP-controlled legislature adopted gerrymandered election maps in 2011, the GOP has held a majority of seats in both the Assembly and the Senate, whether their party won the most votes statewide or not. Recently the Wisconsin Supreme Court (SCOWIS) heard oral arguments last week in Clarke v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, a case "challenging the extreme partisan gerrymandering of the state legislative maps" (Law Forward). Now we await the decisions and the litigation to follow.

Ahead of the oral arguments, the Fair Maps Coalition and other groups — including North Shore Fair Maps — held a rally in the Capitol. Many groups participated and spoke. Our own co-leader of Grassroots North Shore spoke eloquently about how partisan gerrymanders have stymied Wisconsin voters' preferred policies in many areas: "affordable healthcare, sensible gun legislation, funding for public schools, and access to abortion. 'But the Legislature says no,' Maranto said after naming each of these issues." Executive Director of Common Cause, Jay Heck, concurred: "Since Republicans now control safe seats, they do not have to listen to the needs of the people, adds Heck, noting fair maps would help promote actual representation" (Isthmus, 11-21-2023).

E. J. Dionne's opinion piece in the Washington Post on November 26 — Democracy faces two threats. Trump is only one of them. — explains the decade-long effort to curtail voting rights really began with a 2013 Supreme Court decision, Shelby County v. Holder, that struck down the section of the VRA that required "pre-clearance" of changes to voting laws in jurisdictions that had a history of discriminating against minorities: "This led to an explosion of state abuses, including discriminatory voter-identification laws, targeted purges of electoral rolls, gerrymanders that undercut minority representation and changes in early-voting rules that often advantaged some groups over others." He goes on to note that "defenders of today’s restrictions insist they are not discriminating against anyone. But making it harder for some people to vote — often in the name of preventing the falsely imagined “voter fraud” that is at the heart of Trump’s election denial — is no less an attack on democracy." Dionne proposes two remedies: fighting for a new Voting Rights Act and enacting a constitutional amendment that would at last explicitly guarantee every citizen's right to vote. Neither will happen any time soon, but both are worth fighting for starting now.

Meanwhile, we need to support the Democratic administration we enjoy now. To that end, the Biden campaign is providing us with some issue-oriented talking points on the Threads platform. You can use these points to address these crazy MAGA claims:

  • "The economy was better during Trump!"
  • "Trump's going to protect our Social Security and Medicare!"
  • "Trump secured our border!"
  • "There's no federal ban on abortion; you can still get one — what's the big deal?"
  • "Trump is better for workers!"
  • "World leaders respected Trump and the world was safer!"
  • "Trump is winning in the polls!"

You don't need a Threads account to follow the campaign's postings.

Finally, a word or two about a long-forgotten Walker administration boondoggle: Foxconn. I'm sure you know that the corporation failed to fulfill its promises to invest beaucoup bucks (like $10 billion) in Racine County, to hire 13,000 workers at good pay rates, and to manufacture large display screens at the site. Taxpayers — you and me and everyone else in the state — foot the bill for the infrastructure the state created. Well now, Microsoft is bidding to buy "an additional 1,030 acres of land that Foxconn never built." To do the deal, the terms of the Foxconn contract that the state renegotiated in 2021 apparently have to be modified again. You'll find the Kathleen Gallagher's story in the November 24 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The headline gives away the bottom line: "Local officials are poised to let Foxconn off of the hook. Here's why politics and development deals rarely succeed."

Now it's time to shop until we drop, right? Chanukah, I learned, starts next week, followed shortly by Christmas and Kwanzaa. So let's be merry and also find some politically productive things to do!

If you missed some newsletters and want to catch up, you'll find them archived on our website.



Tuesday, November 28

Marisabel for Milwaukee Kickoff & Fundraiser, 5:00 - 7:30pm
Amalinda, 315 E Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee

Marisabel Cabrera is a Wisconsin pro-choice and LGBT leader. Join Team Marisabel supporters for an intimate evening of fine dining bites and snacks, inspired by the flavors of Spain & Portugal, incorporating local ingredients. Featuring beloved Chef Gregory Len, James Beard Award Nominee 2022, 2023. Hosts: former Rep Sandy Pasch and many more! Learn more about Marisabel. RSVP REQUIRED.

Sarah Harrison Campaign Kickoff, 5:30pm
19115 W Capitol Dr #100, Brookfield

Join us on Thursday, November 28 at North Star Bistro to kick off Sarah Harrison’s campaign for State Assembly District 13! AD13 includes Brookfield, Elm Grove and a little scoop of Tosa. Sarah is running for Assembly District 13 to restore our reproductive freedom, fully fund our public schools, and invest in our local communities. As a small business owner and mother of two teenagers, Sarah understands the challenges we face in AD13. Donate and RSVP.

Wednesday, November 29

On the Issues: Wisconsin Election Outlook, 12:15 - 1:15
Eckstein Hall | Lubar Center (1215 W Michigan, Milwaukee) and online

Lubar Center Director Derek C. Mosley will talk with Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll and professor of law and public policy; Craig Gilbert, Lubar Center Fellow, and longtime journalist in Washington, D.C., whose election analysis appears in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; and Julia Azari, professor of political science at Marquette University and a regular contributor to national discussions of politics. They will discuss Wisconsin's 2024 election outlook, including the effects of changes in voter demographics and highlights of polling data on some of the state's most significant issues. Sign up.

Defend Justice: Friendbank, 5:30 - 6:30pm

[URGENT] WE NEED YOUR HELP! There is a Republican threat to impeach newly-elected Janet Protasiewicz. This is a desperate, unconstitutional, unprecedented, and obscene power grab to erase the votes of a million Wisconsinites and lock in their gerrymandered maps, the near-total abortion ban, and the plot to overturn the 2024 presidential election. We must make absolutely clear to Robin Vos and Republicans in the Wisconsin State Legislature that this attempt to nullify the last election is absolutely unacceptable. Join us to reach out to your network and mobilize them to call their Representatives! Please sign up!

Saturday, December 2

Elect Her, 10:00am - 1:30pm
Jake's, A Lakeland Community - 529 Ontario Avenue, Sheboygan

Have you considered running for office? We bet you're more qualified than you think. Running for office gives you the chance to be a champion for your community. Just one in four elected leaders are women. But when they run, they win at the same rates as men — the problem is that not enough enter the arena. Engaging women early is key to increasing the number of women leading at schools, in communities, and in politics. LWV of Wisconsin, LWV of Sheboygan County, and Sheboygan County Youth Voters are joining efforts to offer a free, half-day nonpartisan training on how to run for political office. We are partnering with Running Start to give participants access to their proven Elect Her curriculum that gives young women the confidence, capabilities and connections they need to run and win! Register.

Stand for Peace, 12:00 - 1:00pm
Locust and Oakland, Milwaukee

Stand for Peace demonstrates for peace at a different intersection in Milwaukee County every Saturday.

Join us for the Oconomowoc Christmas Parade!!! 4:00 - 6:30pm
East Lisbon Road & North Oakwood Avenue, Oconomowoc

Walk with Democratic Party for the Oconomowoc Christmas Parade and show support for the Democratic Party! Sign up.

Saturday, December 2

Join us for the Waukesha Christmas Parade!!! 3:30 - 6:00pm

Walk with Democratic Party for the Waukesha Christmas Parade and show support for the Democratic Party! Then join us afterwards at the Democratic Party County Office for some hot chocolate! RSVP.

Friday, December 8

4th Congressional District Holiday Party, 6:00pm
Ambassador Hotel Milwaukee, 2308 W Wisconsin Ave

Please join the Democratic Party for a Holiday Party to support 4th Congressional District and the Democratic Party of Milwaukee County. RSVP by ordering your tickets. Any questions please email [email protected] or call Joshua Taylor at (414) 324-1139 or Deiadra Queary at 404-493-2940.

Saturday, December 9

2023 Milwaukee Hmong New Year, 12:00 - 3:00pm & 3:00 - 6:00pm
WI State Fair Expo Center, 8200 W Greenfield Ave, Milwaukee

Join us as we are excited to attend the 2023 Milwaukee Hmong New Year at the WI State Fair Expo Center! This year, we'll have information to share on all things WisDems for attendees from all across WI. This is a great way to enjoy the lively atmosphere packed with various foods/ cuisines, cultural performances, and competition shows. Registration is required for FREE admission so sign up today!

Stand for Peace, 12:00 - 1:00pm
Highway 100 and North Ave, Milwaukee

Stand for Peace demonstrates for peace at a different intersection in Milwaukee County every Saturday.

Sunday, December 10

2023 Milwaukee Hmong New Year, 9:00am - 12:00pm, 12:00 - 3:00pm, & 3:00 - 6:00pm
WI State Fair Expo Center, 8200 W Greenfield Ave, Milwaukee

Join us as we are excited to attend the 2023 Milwaukee Hmong New Year at the WI State Fair Expo Center! This year, we'll have information to share on all things WisDems for attendees from all across WI. This is a great way to enjoy the lively atmosphere packed with various foods/ cuisines, cultural performances, and competition shows. Registration is required for FREE admission so sign up today!

Tuesday, December 12

Marisabel for Milwaukee Southside Campaign Launch Birthday Celebration and Holiday Party5:00 - 7:00pm
Broken Bat Brewing Co., 135 E Pittsburgh Ave, Milwaukee

An event to celebrate the Holiday Season and Rep. Marisabel Cabreras Birthday. Featuring host: Milwaukee Common Council President Jos Prez. Sign up.


Thursday, December 14

WisDems Monthly Milwaukee Get Together, 6:00 - 7:30pm
Dead Bird Brewing Company, 1726 N 5th St, Milwaukee

Come join us for our monthly get together! This is your chance to grab a beer, meet the team, hear about upcoming events, and decide the role you want to play in us winning big in Milwaukee in 2024! RSVP.

Friday, December 15

League of Women Voters Milwaukee Cafe, 10:00am - 12:00pm
Milwaukee Public Library East Branch Community Room, 2320 N Cramer St, Milwaukee

League Cafe meets monthly and welcomes League members old and new, as well as community members. In a small group setting, we get to know each other better, share knowledge and have interesting conversations. In rotating months, we meet as a general discussion group, and in opposite months, convene as a book club to discuss noteworthy books on racial equity, immigration and/or voting. Registration is not required.

Waukesha Dem Party Drag Show & Game Night, 7:00pm
Schuetze Recreation Center Activity Room, 1120 Baxter St, Waukesha

Join us for our first ever drag show and only fun-raiser of 2023! This will be a fun night of bingo, games, photo ops, and fun! All funds raised will go to support our 2024 plans to win local races before re-electing Tammy Baldwin and Joe Biden! Waukesha County will be #Crucial to winning Wisconsin, your donation sets us up for success. There will be prizes, fun, BBQ catering, and MORE! Buy Tickets.

Monday, December 18

Join Us for a Rally and Fundraiser for Evan Goyke for City Attorney!5:00 - 7:00pm
Best Place at the Historic Pabst, 917 W Juneau Ave, Milwaukee

Join Host Senator LaTonya Johnson for a special event for Evan Goyke. This is a time to sign nomination papers, get yard signs, raise money, sign up to endorse, support, and volunteer! Donate and/or sign up.

Wednesday, December 20

Oz Dems Monthly Meeting, 7:00 - 8:00pm
1930 Wisconsin Ave., Grafton

Join us at our Grafton Office as we gather to hear speakers and catch up on the local and state politics influencing Ozaukee County – while spending time with like-minded people. All interested people are encouraged to attend.

other important links

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