Scott Walker defends unconstitutional GOP racial gerrymandering of voting districts

Walker on court ruling that struck down GOP racial gerrymandering: “The maps that they forced them to redraw really tied up a number of key parts -- key demographic -- uh, geographical areas of Virginia”

Scott Walker gerrymandering
Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

Former Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker attacked a court ruling that led to Virginia using new voting maps for the commonwealth’s 2019 elections without explaining that the old maps had been unconstitutionally gerrymandered to dilute Black votes. Walker made the comments on his right-wing podcast You Can’t Recall Courage, where he went on to complain that Democratic redistricting efforts that target GOP gerrymandering were attempts to “relitigate the past.”

Following elections in Virginia on November 5, Democrats gained control of both chambers of the commonwealth’s legislature. The election took place using new district maps that were redrawn following a legal challenge backed by a Democratic redistricting group headed by former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder. In June 2018, a federal court struck down 11 districts as violating Virginia’s constitution after finding “overwhelming evidence” that the maps, which were drawn by Republicans following the 2010 census, “sorted voters into districts based on the color of their skin.” The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed a Republican appeal of the ruling in June 2019 based on standing grounds in a 5-4 decision that did not split along ideological lines.

Walker, who is the public face of a pro-gerrymandering Republican redistricting group, complained about the Virginia election results during the November 15 edition of You Can’t Recall Courage. Walker first claimed that denizens of Northern Virginia -- which is now a reliably Democratic voting region -- are members of “the deep state” and are “all the folks who are causing all sorts of troubles for the Trump administration.” 

He then turned to redistricting in Virginia, saying that Holder and “his cronies” have “been systematically out there working on redistricting, and what we saw in Virginia is another example of that.” Walker then complained about the legal action taken against Virginia’s districts, saying it targeted only those controlled by Republicans. Which, of course, makes sense, because those were districts that had been alleged -- and then later proved -- to be racially gerrymandered. Though he claimed to listeners that he was going to give a full account of the legal challenge, at no point while discussing the case did Walker ever mention that the legal challenge was brought on racial gerrymandering grounds; instead, he misleadingly framed the lawsuit as merely a partisan dispute between Republicans and Democrats.

Scott Walker attacks court ruling that struck down unconstitutional racial gerrymandering

Audio file

Citation From the November 15 broadcast of You Can't Recall Courage

Walker then complained that the new maps may have been the deciding factor in control of the Virginia legislature, saying, “The maps that they forced them to redraw really tied up a number of key parts -- key demographic -- uh, geographical areas of Virginia and in the end probably cost from anywhere from three to five, or three to four seats” for Republicans. He went on to dismiss all efforts to challenge voting maps, saying that “people like Eric Holder like to relitigate the past,” while mentioning redistricting efforts in Wisconsin -- where Walker signed into law a partisan gerrymandering effort favorable to Republicans in 2011 -- and other states. 

During a recent appearance on Fox News’ Fox & Friends, Walker similarly obfuscated the reasons behind legal challenges to racial gerrymandering in North Carolina, dishonestly characterizing the efforts as attempts to give Democrats an unfair advantage in elections. Walker himself has acknowledged that he doesn’t think all votes should count equally in all elections, in one case suggesting that representation in the Wisconsin legislature should be based on districts determined by land area rather than population.