Wisconsin Supreme Court Hearing Arguments On Redistricting That Could Result In New Maps For 2024

FILE - A man walks by the Wisconsin Capitol, Oct. 10, 2012, in Madison, Wis. Supporters of Wisconsin's taxpayer-funded school choice and independent charter school programs urged the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which is located inside the state Capitol, on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023, to reject a lawsuit seeking to declare the programs unconstitutional, saying such a move would create chaos for tens of thousands of families with students currently enrolled. (AP Photo/Scott Bauer, File)
FILE – A person walks by the Wisconsin Capitol, Oct. 10, 2012, in Madison, Wis. Supporters of Wisconsin’s taxpayer-funded faculty alternative and impartial constitution faculty packages urged the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which is positioned contained in the state Capitol, on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023, to reject a lawsuit searching for to declare the packages unconstitutional, saying such a transfer would create chaos for tens of 1000’s of households with college students at present enrolled. (AP Photo/Scott Bauer, File)
by way of Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The liberal-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court is scheduled to listen to arguments Tuesday in a redistricting case that Democrats hope will lead to new, extra favorable legislative maps for elections in 2024 that can assist them chip away on the massive Republican majority.

The case is being carefully watched in battleground Wisconsin, a state the place 4 of the previous six presidential elections have been determined by fewer than 23,000 votes, however the place Republicans have constructed massive majorities within the Legislature underneath maps they drew over a decade in the past.

Democratic voters who filed the lawsuit being heard by the court docket Tuesday argue that the maps handed in 2022, which fluctuate little from these drawn in 2011, are unconstitutionally “unsalvageable” and have to be struck down and redrawn. The Legislature counters that Democrats are exercising “raw political power” and making an attempt to make the most of the brand new liberal majority on the court docket to overturn its 2021 ruling that adopted the present maps.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is managed 4-3 by liberal justices, following the April election victory by Justice Janet Protasiewicz. She known as the GOP-drawn maps “unfair” and “rigged” in the course of the marketing campaign, main Republicans to threaten to impeach her earlier than she had even heard a case. Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos backed off for now, however has stored the risk alive if she votes to strike down the maps.

Democrats need the court docket to strike down the legislative maps, draw new ones, and order elections underneath these maps for all 132 state lawmakers in 2024. If the court docket had been to rule that method, the case will surely be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and it is unclear whether or not there could be a ruling in time for the 2024 election.

The Legislature argues that if new maps are ordered, nothing ought to be enacted any earlier than the 2026 election.

Litigation is ongoing in additional than dozen states over U.S. House and state legislative districts enacted after the 2020 census. New York is among the many most distinguished. The state’s highest court docket heard arguments final week on whether or not an impartial redistricting fee should take one other crack at drawing congressional districts. Democrats are hoping a redraw may assist them acquire seats and, doubtlessly, the House majority.

New Mexico’s Supreme Court heard arguments Monday on an enchantment of a decrease court docket ruling that rejected assertions the Democratic-led Legislature had illegally gerrymandered the state’s congressional districts. Last week, a federal choose in North Dakota dominated that state legislative districts drawn by the Republican majority violated the voting rights of two Native American tribes and have to be redrawn by Dec. 22.

The Democrats’ case in Wisconsin facilities on whether or not the present districts aren’t contiguous and in the event that they violate the Wisconsin Constitution’s separation of powers doctrine.

The majority of present legislative districts — 54 out of 99 within the Assembly and 21 out of 33 within the Senate — violate the state structure’s contiguity requirement, attorneys difficult the maps argued in filings with the court docket.

That makes Wisconsin an outlier nationally, with 46 different states having no noncontiguous districts, and Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Tennessee having a complete of 9 noncontiguous districts, attorneys argued.

Wisconsin’s redistricting legal guidelines, backed up by state and federal court docket rulings over the previous 50 years, have permitted districts underneath sure circumstances to be noncontiguous, attorneys for the Legislature argued. Even if the court docket determined to deal with the problem, it may solely have an effect on alleged areas the place districts aren’t contiguous and never upend current district strains, Republicans argued.

Those searching for new maps contend that the Supreme Court violated the separation of powers doctrine when it adopted the Republican-drawn map that Democratic Gov. Tony Evers had beforehand vetoed, “improperly seizing powers for itself the Constitution assigns to other branches.”

The legislative electoral maps drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2011 cemented the celebration’s majorities, which now stand at 64-35 within the Assembly and a 22-11 supermajority within the Senate.

Since taking the bulk in 2011, Republicans have enacted a variety of conservative priorities. They have all however eradicated collective bargaining for public employees, and since 2019 they’ve been a block on Evers’ agenda, firing Evers appointees and threatening impeachment of Protasiewicz and the state’s elections chief.

Republicans are additionally simply two seats wanting a supermajority that may enable them to overturn Evers’ vetoes.

Wisconsin’s Assembly districts rank among the many most gerrymandered nationally, with Republicans routinely profitable way more seats than could be anticipated primarily based on their common share of the vote, in response to an Associated Press evaluation.


Associated Press writers David Lieb in Jefferson City, Missouri, and Harm Venhuizen in Madison contributed to this report.