Federal court orders Wisconsin Legislature to redraw maps

MADISON — A panel of federal judges has ordered the Wisconsin Legislature to redraw legislative boundaries by November, rejecting calls from those challenging the maps to have the judges do the work.

The three-judge panel released its decision in the redistricting case Friday. The state is expected to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case.

State attorneys had asked for the Republican-controlled Legislature to be allowed to draw the maps if the Supreme Court orders them redone. Democrats who sued over the boundaries wanted the judges to do that.

A dozen voters sued in 2015 over the Republican-drawn boundaries, alleging they unconstitutionally consolidated GOP power and discriminated against Democrats. The three-judge panel agreed in a 2-1 ruling in November but didn't order any immediate action.

Democrats are calling for public hearings on the redrawing of those legislative boundaries.

Republican legislative leaders had no immediate comment on the ruling, but have previously said they expect the Supreme Court to uphold the original maps.

Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel has promised to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

State Sen. Mark Miller (D - Monona) issued the following statement on this order:

"The decision by the federal court to require new redistricting maps by November 1, 2017 is great news for Wisconsin. Voters should always pick their elected officials instead of elected officials picking them. I hope that legislative republicans are more competent with their second chance.

"In our democracy, people have the right to hold their government accountable in fair, competitive elections – I am pleased that power should finally be returned to the people of Wisconsin."

Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning issued this statement:

"Democrats believe that voting should be fair and elections should be meaningful. This is an incredibly important ruling for the people of Wisconsin and our democracy. Finally, after six years of an unconstitutional gerrymander, the voters will have a chance to truly have their voice heard.

"Many thanks to those who fought tirelessly to put the power of the vote back in the hands of the people. I look forward to a fair and transparent redrawing process and the restoration of a cornerstone of our democratic process."