Wisconsin Supreme Court orders new legislative maps in redistricting case

Litigation Regulations

The liberal-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned Republican-drawn legislative maps on Friday and ordered that new district boundary lines 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 court ruled 4-3 in favor of Democrats who argued that the legislative maps are unconstitutional because districts drawn aren’t contiguous. New maps are likely to be unveiled in about two months.

“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.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers hailed the ruling, saying he looked forward to submitting proposed maps for the court to review.

“And I remain as optimistic as ever that, at long last, the gerrymandered maps Wisconsinites have endured for years might soon be history,” he said.

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.”

“For too long, rightwing interests have rigged the rules without any consequences,” he said in a statement. “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.”

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos called it “a sad day for our state” and suggested it would be appealed, saying the U.S. Supreme Court would have the final say.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court said it will proceed with adopting remedial maps in time for the 2024 election unless the Republican-controlled Legislature can pass maps that Evers will sign. Evers vetoed the current maps.

The court appointed two consultants who already had a hand in reshaping districts in other states.

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