Common Cause honors four “Defenders of Democracy” who have played pivotal roles in reshaping America’s legal landscape to address the scourge of partisan gerrymandering. As the 2020 Decennial Census and the ensuing 2021 redistricting cycle fast approach, Common Cause recognizes the efforts of a small team of lawyers and experts who have successfully shifted the national conversation on redistricting – what is right and wrong, and how the law can provide meaningful remedies.

Professor Jowei Chen (University of Michigan) has been named one of the four "Defenders." Chen pioneered the “simulation approach” to create thousands of computer-simulated maps to show that challenged maps fall outside of expected outcomes and can only be explained as partisan gerrymanders. Chen’s expert testimony has been instrumental in states such as Florida, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina to efforts to successfully challenge partisan gerrymandering.

Jowei Chen's research interests include distributive politics, executive agencies and legislatures. He has studied how legislators' pork-barreling strategies are shaped by the electoral geography of their districts, and he has examined how government spending influences voters. He is also interested in the political control of executive agencies.