Wisconsin Fair Maps Coalition by Tony Webster CC BY 2.0 A yard sign in Mellen, Wisconsin reads: “This Time Wisconsin Deserves Fair Maps,” paid for by the Fair Elections Project, FairMapsWI.com. The political sign supports redistricting legislation to reform gerrymandering.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled on Monday in a 4-3 decision that the state’s Republican members of Congress won’t be able to submit a new version of their proposed state political maps in the case to decide the boundary lines for the next ten years of Wisconsin elections.
The court’s three liberal-leaning justices were joined by conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn.
Late last month, Republican Reps. Scott Fitzgerald, Bryan Steil, Mike Gallagher, Tom Tiffany and Glenn Grothman filed to submit an amended version of the map they had submitted in the case. The court ordered the other parties in the lawsuit, which include the Republican-led Legislature, Gov. Tony Evers and progressive political organizations, to file responses on whether or not they believe the new map should be allowed.
The congressmen were requesting the court to consider both the originally submitted map and the amended version as they take on the task of drawing new political lines — which is why the majority ruled the amended version wouldn’t be allowed.
Meanwhile, Evers and the progressive group Black Leaders Organizing for Communities (BLOC) filed motions to amend their maps while disregarding the maps they’d originally proposed. The court ruled that these amended maps would be allowed.
“Our order of November 17, 2021, provided that parties could submit only a single set of maps and provided a process by which parties could file a motion to amend their maps,” the court order states. “Consistent with our order, Governor Evers and BLOC brought motions to amend their maps. They ask us to disregard their initial maps and consider only their maps as amended. Because our prior order plainly contemplated this type of motion, both are properly granted. The Congressmen’s motion, however, is different-in-kind. It is not a motion to amend a previously submitted map. Rather, the Congressmen ask us to consider an alternative map while expressly standing by their initial map. In essence, the Congressmen ask us to accept two congressional maps from them, while accepting only one such map from every other party. This plainly runs afoul of our direction that each party may submit only a single set of maps.”
In her dissent, Justice Patience Roggensack said the majority was allowing Democrats and liberal groups to make major corrections to their proposed maps while preventing Republicans from doing the same.
“Redistricting is a new challenge for this court, and as such I would accept all assistance from all parties,” Roggensack wrote in her dissent, which was joined by Justices Annette Ziegler and Rebecca Bradley. “The majority seems to hold this view for Governor Evers and the BLOC plaintiffs, but a different view for the Congressmen.”
The court also ordered that all the parties in the case must come together and agree on a standardized template for their proposed maps so the justices are assessing the merits of each proposal using the same scale and style.
The redistricting case is awaiting oral arguments and there is still a pending lawsuit in federal court but the new maps must be in place by the spring when political candidates for the fall elections must begin collecting signatures to gain access to the ballot.
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