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Wisconsin attorney general appeals redistricting ruling

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin’s Republican attorney general filed an appeal Friday with the U.S. Supreme Court challenging a ruling striking down GOP-drawn legislative boundaries as unconstitutional.

Brad Schimel had said he would appeal since a panel of judges last month struck down the maps and ordered the Republican-controlled Legislature to draw new boundaries. The judges ordered that new maps be drawn by November so they would be in place for the 2018 election.

Democrats who challenged the maps are calling on the Legislature to move quickly to draw new ones. But Schimel and Republicans don’t want to do that unless the Supreme Court requires it.

Schimel simply filed the notice of appeal on Friday. He does not make any legal arguments and had no comment, spokesman Johnny Koremenos said.

An attorney for those challenging the maps, Doug Poland, said Republicans used taxpayer money to draw the maps so they could entrench their power.

“With this appeal, Wisconsin citizens now look to the United States Supreme Court to finally and permanently remove the cancer of extreme partisan gerrymandering from our democracy,” Poland said.

Republicans redrew the district lines shortly after they gained complete control of state government in 2011. The new boundaries have helped the GOP maintain control of the state Senate and Assembly in every election since then. Republicans have their largest majority in the state Senate since 1971 and their biggest in the Assembly since 1957.

A dozen voters sued in 2015 over the Republican-drawn maps, alleging they unconstitutionally consolidated GOP power and discriminated against Democrats. The three-judge panel agreed.

The Supreme Court is split 4-4 between conservatives and liberals. The U.S. Senate is considering whether to confirm President Donald Trump’s nominee Neil Gorsuch, a conservative.

Schimel is representing the state Elections Commission in the case. Republican legislative leaders hired a pair of law firms to represent them before the Supreme Court. Taxpayers could be on the hook for $175,000 in legal fees to one firm, while another is being paid $300 an hour to work the case. Taxpayers have already spent $2 million for the Republican defense of the maps.

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Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sbauerAP and find more of his work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/scott-bauer

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