Wisconsin redistricting: Federal court allows case to proceed

Wisconsin State Capitol, Madison

A three-judge panel of federal judges on Thursday, Sept. 16 denied a request by the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature to dismiss a redistricting lawsuit brought by Democrats, a move that keeps the case alive while conservatives want the battle to be fought in state courts.

The federal court also combined two lawsuits – one filed by voters represented by a prominent Democratic attorney and the other by voting advocacy groups. The court also allowed Wisconsin's five Republican congressmen and Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to intervene in the case.

A third redistricting lawsuit, brought by conservatives, is pending before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which has not yet said whether it will take it or require it to first go through lower state courts.

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All three lawsuits say it’s unlikely the Legislature and Evers will agree on new maps, so the courts should be prepared to draw them instead.

The federal court noted that federal courts, not state, have intervened in the last three redistricting cycles in which Wisconsin has had divided government as it does now.

"The court and parties must prepare now to resolve the redistricting dispute, should the state fail to establish new maps in time for the 2022 elections," the judges ruled.

A hearing in the case is set for Tuesday.

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