Eric Holder and the NDRC Are Suing Scott Walker

Eric Holder and the NDRC Are Suing Scott Walker

Eric Holder and the NDRC Are Suing Scott Walker

The former attorney general is challenging the Republican governor’s antidemocratic refusal to call special elections.


Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s refusal to hold special elections to fill vacant state-legislative seats will be challenged in the courts by former US attorney general Eric Holder and the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC).

“Governor Scott Walker’s refusal to hold special elections is an affront to representative democracy,” declared Holder, who announced Monday that the National Redistricting Foundation, an affiliate of the NDRC group he heads, will file suit in the circuit court of Wisconsin’s Dane County on behalf of voters in the two disenfranchised districts. “Forcing citizens to go more than a year without representation in the [legislature] is a plain violation of their rights and we’re hopeful the court will act quickly to order the governor to hold elections.”

Marc Elias, one of the nation’s most prominent legal experts on elections, is a member of the foundation’s legal team.

Walker, who was stung in January of this year by a special-election result that saw a historically Republican State Senate seat won by a Democrat, appointed Republican State Senator Frank Lasee and Republican State Representative Keith Ripp to posts in his administration last December. Since then, he has stubbornly refused to call special elections to fill the seats—arguing that voters should not be given a say until the regularly scheduled election in November.

Wisconsin statutes say that vacant legislative seats “shall be filled as promptly as possible by special election.” While Walker’s aides and allies had tried to claim he had leeway because of statute language regarding the close of the regular floor period of the legislature and special sessions, those arguments crumbled as the legislature has continued to meet and act on major welfare-reform and criminal-justice-reform issues.

The governor’s antidemocratic stance, which has been criticized as an attempt by Walker to prevent Republican special-election losses that might embarrass his party and undermine his own 2018 reelection run, threatens to leave almost 230,000 Wisconsinites unrepresented for the better part of a year. It was the subject of an investigation by The Nation into the refusal of Republican governors to call special elections for legislative seats in the swing states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Florida, and for a US house seat in Michigan, that was published in the current issue of the magazine.

Wisconsin Senate minority leader Jennifer Shilling (D–La Crosse) has complained that “Governor Walker is running scared and is playing politics with people’s right to be represented in the State Capitol.”

Now, however, Walker has another reason to be running scared. His attempt to play politics with representative democracy could well be upset by the courts.

Thank you for reading The Nation

We hope you enjoyed the story you just read, just one of the many incisive, deeply-reported articles we publish daily. Now more than ever, we need fearless journalism that shifts the needle on important issues, uncovers malfeasance and corruption, and uplifts voices and perspectives that often go unheard in mainstream media.

Throughout this critical election year and a time of media austerity and renewed campus activism and rising labor organizing, independent journalism that gets to the heart of the matter is more critical than ever before. Donate right now and help us hold the powerful accountable, shine a light on issues that would otherwise be swept under the rug, and build a more just and equitable future.

For nearly 160 years, The Nation has stood for truth, justice, and moral clarity. As a reader-supported publication, we are not beholden to the whims of advertisers or a corporate owner. But it does take financial resources to report on stories that may take weeks or months to properly investigate, thoroughly edit and fact-check articles, and get our stories into the hands of readers.

Donate today and stand with us for a better future. Thank you for being a supporter of independent journalism.

Ad Policy