Wisconsin's Top Court Tosses GOP Redistricting Map

Justices will accept new legislative plans and have a consultant review them
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 22, 2023 4:20 PM CST
Wisconsin's Top Court Tosses GOP Redistricting Map
The Wisconsin Supreme Court listens to arguments from state Assistant Attorney General Anthony D. Russomanno, representing Gov. Tony Evers, during a redistricting hearing at the state Capitol in Madison last month.   (Ruthie Hauge/The Capital Times via AP, Pool, File)

The Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned Republican-drawn legislative maps on Friday and ordered that new district boundaries be drawn as Democrats had urged in a redistricting case they hope will weaken GOP majorities. The ruling comes less than a year before the 2024 election in a battleground state where four of the six past presidential elections have been decided by fewer than 23,000 votes and Republicans have built large majorities in the legislature under maps they drew over a decade ago, the AP reports. The court ruled 4-3 in favor of Democrats who argued that the legislative maps are unconstitutional because districts drawn aren't contiguous.

"Because the current state legislative districts contain separate, detached territory and therefore violate the constitution's contiguity requirements, we enjoin the Wisconsin Elections Commission from using the current legislative maps in future elections," Justice Jill Karofksy wrote for the majority. Dan Lenz, an attorney for Law Forward, which brought the lawsuit, called the ruling "a victory for a representative democracy in the state of Wisconsin." He added: "Gerrymandered maps have distorted the political landscape, stifling the voice of the voters. It challenges the very essence of fair representation and erodes confidence in our political system." Attorneys for the legislature and for Republican leaders did not return messages seeking comment. An election in April gave Democrat-backed justices control of the court.

The court said it will proceed with adopting remedial maps in time for the 2024 election unless the Republican-controlled legislature can pass maps that Democratic Gov. Tony Evers will sign. Evers vetoed the current maps. All of the parties of the lawsuit will be allowed to submit maps to the court, per the AP, along with expert evidence and supporting arguments. The court said it will appoint one or more consultants to evaluate the maps who will issue reports on their findings. The legislative electoral maps drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2011 cemented the party's majorities, which now stand at 64-35 in the Assembly and a 22-11 supermajority in the Senate.

(More redistricting stories.)

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