J.B. Van Hollen appeals court's redistricting decision

MADISON -- Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced Thursday, April 19th that he has filed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the redistricting decision made on March 22nd. A judge rejected all legal challenges to the newly drawn congressional boundaries and state Senate districts.

Two Milwaukee voting districts were revised Wednesday, April 11th in favor of Democrats and an immigrant-rights group, concluding a federal lawsuit over the constitutionality of the state’s newest election maps.

A panel of three federal judges accepted the Democrats’ revisions for Assembly districts 8 and 9, dismissing in the process two maps that Republicans had proposed. A lawsuit was filed last year by a handful of Democrats and Latino-rights group Voces de la Frontera.

At issue were the election maps that define the boundaries of Wisconsin voting districts The boundaries are redrawn every 10 years to account for population shifts. The latest maps were drawn in secrecy by Republicans and signed into law last year by Gov. Scott Walker, in a process that the judges frequently criticized in harsh language for its lack of transparency.

The plaintiffs argued in part that the new maps split up one strong Hispanic voting bloc in Milwaukee into two weaker groups, limiting those residents’ power to elect Latino candidates. The federal panel agreed. The judges ordered both parties to adjust the boundary between the two districts, either by collaborating on one map or by submitting their own individual maps for the court’s approval. The two sides were unable to come to
agreement, so the plaintiffs submitted one proposal of their own and the defendants submitted two. The plaintiffs maps were accepted by the panel.

In a statement issued Thursday, Van Hollen said: “The redistricting laws were upheld in virtually all respects.  However, we have appealed the one portion of the district court’s decision where the State did not prevail.  While some view the adverse portion of the district court decision as being inconsequential, I disagree.  Any time a federal court rejects a state redistricting statute, and decides to redraw or adjust a legislative district, it is a serious matter and appropriate for appellate review.”

Related stories: