Redistricting fight to US Supreme Court; request by Wisconsin GOP
MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin Republicans on Monday, March 7 asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block a state ruling that would enact legislative maps submitted by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, saying allowing it to stand would put in place "racial gerrymandering."
Republicans asked the nation's highest court to put on hold the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling from last week and take an expedited appeal of the case. The court does not have to take the case. If it declines to hear it, then the state Supreme Court ruling would stand.
In a 4-3 ruling on Thursday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court chose Evers' maps over ones submitted by Republicans and other interest groups.
The decision was a marginal victory for Democrats because the new maps were more favorable to Democrats, but they are still projected to result in districts that would keep Republicans in the majority. That's because the state Supreme Court said it would only consider new district boundaries that adhered closely to the ones already in place that were drawn by Republicans in 2011.
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The current districts have helped Republicans increase their majorities in the Legislature and Congress over the past decade. Democrats had wanted to draw new maps from scratch, but the state Supreme Court didn't allow it. Democrats also have a pending federal lawsuit they could revive.
"Overall, it's a step forward," Evers said of the maps he submitted that the court adopted when asked about it following a bill signing Monday. "Overall, it's not where we need to be."
Republicans on Friday asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to put its ruling adopting the Evers legislative maps on hold pending the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The state Supreme Court has not yet acted on that request.
Republicans, in their filing with the U.S. Supreme Court, argued that Evers' map moves too many people in Milwaukee to create more districts with a majority of Black and Hispanic voters in violation of the Constitution and federal Voting Rights Act. There are currently six Assembly districts with a Black majority, but that would grow to seven under the adopted Evers map.
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"Wisconsin is now home to the 21st-century racial gerrymander," attorneys for Republicans said in their filing with the U.S. Supreme Court. "The redraw is nothing short of a court-ordered maximization of majority-Black districts."
Justice Brian Hagedorn, writing for the court's majority last week, said it adopted Evers maps because they made the least changes of all the proposals.
"It is not a close call," Hagedorn wrote.
The Legislature redraws Wisconsin’s congressional and legislative district maps every 10 years to reflect population changes. The process, known as redistricting, can solidify the partisan majority in the Legislature for a decade. With the stakes so high, Evers and Republican lawmakers couldn’t agree on a plan, leading to both sides asking the state Supreme Court to choose between each side’s maps.
The new maps will be used for races this fall, starting with the Aug. 9 primary. Elections officials have pushed for quick resolution of the legal fight so the district boundaries are known before candidates take out nomination papers next month.
Republicans asked that the current districts remain in place while the court battle plays out.