Supreme Court Sides With Republicans in Case on Wisconsin Redistricting


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The U.S. Supreme Court has sided in favor of Wisconsin’s Republican-led Legislature in a dispute over voting maps for the state’s legislative districts.

The nation’s highest court reversed a ruling from the Wisconsin Supreme Court that had selected the map drawn by Democrat Gov. Tony Evers and sent the case back to the state for reconsideration.

Liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented, saying “the court’s action today is unprecedented,” adding that “the court today faults the State Supreme Court for its failure to comply with an obligation that, under existing precedent, is hazy at best.”

“In a second unsigned ruling on Wednesday, which was one sentence long and noted no dissents, the court rejected a challenge from five Republican congressmen who objected to the congressional map adopted by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which had also been prepared by Mr. Evers, a Democrat,” the New York Times reported.

“In the case on state legislative districts, lawyers for the Legislature and four voters filed an emergency application to the U.S. Supreme Court that called the governor’s map a 21st-century racial gerrymander, focusing on the fact that it increased the number of State Assembly districts around Milwaukee in which Black voters made up a majority to seven from six. The Legislature’s map dropped the number to five,” the report added.


Back in December, the Wisconsin Supreme Court sided with Republicans in a redistricting case that should keep the state’s boundaries intact for a decade.

In a 4-3 ruling, the court’s conservative majority said it would take a “least changes” approach to Wisconsin’s current legislative and congressional maps, effectively limiting any changes in political boundaries to population changes.

The ruling means that the court will make as few changes as possible to political maps drawn and adopted in 2011.

Democrats argued that those old maps – which were approved by the Republican-controlled legislature and signed by a Republican governor – were drawn to give the GOP a distinct political advantage and that the new maps should be redone entirely.


The state leadership is split with a Democrat governor in Tony Evers, who had vetoed the maps put forth by the Republican legislature this year.

But in its ruling, the court said there was no reason for it to step in because the maps already passed muster.

“The existing maps were adopted by the legislature, signed by the governor, and survived judicial review by the federal courts,” the decision, by the conservative majority court, said. “Treading further than necessary to remedy their current legal deficiencies…would intrude upon the constitutional prerogatives of the political branches and unsettle the constitutional allocation of power.”


“We adopt the least-change approach to remedying any constitutional or statutory infirmities in the existing maps because the constitution precludes the judiciary from interfering with the lawful policy choices of the legislature,” it said.

The court also said that it would not consider the political fairness of the maps because “partisan fairness presents a purely political question, we will not consider it.” Justice Rebecca Bradley said.

“Such claims have no basis in the constitution or any other law and therefore must be resolved through the political process and not by the judiciary,” Bradley added.

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