MADSON, Wis. ( Associated Press) — The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday adopted maps prepared by Republicans for the state legislature, after initially approving maps drawn by Democratic Governor Tony Evers.
The court reversed itself in March after the US Supreme Court mishandled Evers’ maps.
The state’s high court’s decision came on the same day that candidates could start circulating nomination papers to go to the ballot. Before the ruling, candidates did not know for certain whether they were running in the correct district and potential signers would not know whether they lived in the candidate’s district and were eligible to sign the form.
The court adopted Evers’s legislative map on March 3, but the US Supreme Court overruled it on March 23. This left the state without the boundaries of the new state senate and assembly district.
Evers’ map created seven majority-black state assembly districts in Milwaukee, up from the current six. The Republican-controlled legislature had just five on the map.
Democrats would have made some modest gains under the Evers plan, but Republicans were projected to retain their majority in the Assembly and Senate, according to an analysis by the governor’s office.
The US Supreme Court found that the Wisconsin court, when it adopted Evers’ map, failed to consider whether a “race-neutral option that does not add a seventh-majority-black district would give black voters equal political opportunity.” will deprive it.”
Evers told the state Supreme Court It could still adopt its map with some additional analysis, or an option with six majority-black districts. The Republican-controlled legislature argued that his map should be implemented.
The court, controlled 4-3 by the Conservatives, was in favor of the legislature.
“The maps proposed by the governor … are racially motivated and, under the Equal Protection Clause, they fail strict scrutiny,” wrote Chief Justice Annette Ziegler for the majority, Justices Patience Rosgensack, Rebecca Grass Bradley and Swing Justices. Joined by Brian Hegorn. ,
The legislature’s maps, he wrote, “are race neutral” and “comply with the Equal Protection Clause, along with all other federal and state legal requirements.”
The court’s three liberal judges — Jill Karofsky, Ann Walsh Bradley and Rebecca Dallett — disagreed. Writing for the minority, Karofsky said that the legislature maps “under the argument of the US Supreme Court no better than the governor.”
“If, according to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Milwaukee-area majority-minority district’s governor reveals an unqualified consideration of race, then removing the Milwaukee-area majority-minority district’s legislature reveals an equally suspicious , if not more indicative of a cocky, race-based line drawing,” Karofsky wrote.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos tweeted praising the ruling, saying “Republicans thought our maps were the best option from the start.”
Liberal groups condemned the decision.
Law Forward, which argued on behalf of several community groups including Black Leaders Organizing for Communities and Vosse de la Frontera, said the legislature maps “partisan gerrymander Wisconsin speaking for years.” Law Forward also said the new maps would reduce the votes of black communities in the Milwaukee area “in violation of the Voting Rights Act.”
Republicans currently have a 61–38 majority in the Assembly and a 21–12 advantage in the Senate. Even under the GOP’s map, which was initially rejected by the state court, they were not expected to achieve a supreme majority that could override any veto.
The US Supreme Court’s decision in the Wisconsin case marked the first time this redistribution cycle has reversed a state-drawn map.
The court has indicated that it could significantly change the ground rules governing redistribution. The court’s involvement comes after its 2019 ruling that federal courts have no role in preventing partisan gerrymandering.
in February, It stalled a decision by a panel of federal judges that required Alabama to redraw its maps to give black people a better shot at choosing their representatives, saying it should Long-standing case law may need to be amended. This is the case law that the High Court referred to in the Wisconsin ruling.
The court refused to block the maps in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. But four conservative judges wrote that they wanted to rule on the novel legal principle that state legislatures, rather than state courts, have supreme power in map-making.
While the US Supreme Court rejected Wisconsin’s legislative maps, it adopted the congressional map proposed by Evers. Republicans currently hold five of the state’s eight seats. That map made one of those GOP districts more competitive.
Redistribution is the process of redefining political boundaries based on the latest census. Mapmakers can create an advantage for their political party by packing opponents’ voters into a few districts or spreading them across multiple districts – a process known as gerrymandering.