Wisconsin Supreme Court Approves Congressional, Legislative Maps Proposed by State’s Democratic Governor

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The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday approved congressional and legislative maps proposed by the state’s Democrat Gov. Tony Evers after ruling in November (pdf) that it would take a “least changes” approach to the maps.

In a 4–3 decision, the court ruled that Evers’ maps, out of all the plans submitted, were the ones that kept in place the current district lines that give Republican majorities and make the least amount of changes to current political districts.

The court said in a majority opinion (pdf) that it chose Evers’s maps because they “produce less overall change than other submissions” and “satisfy the requirements of the state and federal constitutions.”

Additionally, the court said the maps also satisfied the federal Constitution’s population equality requirement.

“Under the Wisconsin Constitution, all districts are contiguous, sufficiently equal in population, sufficiently compact, appropriately nested, and pay due respect to local boundaries. Governor Evers’ proposed maps also comply with the federal constitution’s population equality requirement,” the court said.

According to an analysis by Marquette University research fellow John Johnson, Evers’ map would allow Republicans to keep strong majorities in the state legislature. Even in a statewide tie election, Democrats would still only be likely to win 38 out of 99 seats in the Assembly and 11 out of 33 seats in the Senate.

Meanwhile, 60 of the 99 Assembly seats will lean Republican and 22 of the 33 state Senate seats will lean Republican, according to a December analysis of the maps by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Republicans hold five of the state’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives while Democrats hold three.

Evers celebrated the court’s decision in a statement on Thursday evening in which he triumphantly said, “Hell yes.”

“The maps I submitted to the Court that were selected today are a vast improvement from the gerrymandered maps Wisconsin has had for the last decade and the even more gerrymandered Republicans maps that I vetoed last year,” Evers said. “We still have a long way to go, and I will never stop fighting for nonpartisan redistricting as long as I’m the governor of this great state.”

“Today’s ruling isn’t a victory for me or any political party, but for the people of our state who for too long have demanded better, fairer maps and for too long went ignored—today’s victory is for them,” the Democratic governor added.

Political maps in the state are redrawn every 10 years based on the results of the U.S. Census.

Wisconsin’s Supreme Court voted 4–3 in September to take up a lawsuit from Wisconsin voters over the state’s redistricting process amid fears that the Wisconsin state legislature, which is controlled by Republicans, would fail to agree on a new one, given that the governor is a Democrat.

In November, the Supreme Court agreed to limit the changes that could be made to the maps, which favored the GOP and did not move far from those that have been in place since 2011.

However, Justice Annette Ziegler, in a minority dissent, disagreed with the court’s decision on Thursday and argued that “the maps submitted by the Governor are unconstitutional and fatally flawed.”

“What’s next? Perhaps a federal court challenge before the United States Supreme Court. Although braving a face of finality, the majority opinion practically begs that the adopted maps be subject to further litigation,” Ziegler wrote in her opinion, which was joined by the two other dissenting justices, Rebecca Bradley and Patience Roggensack.

Katabella Roberts

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Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.



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