Top Wisconsin court affirms GOP’s preferred approach to maps

Nov 30, 2021, 4:44 PM | Updated: 5:21 pm

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Tuesday sided with Republicans in a redistricting dispute, ruling that it saw no need to make significant changes to the maps that have helped the GOP win majorities in the state Legislature and congressional delegation.

The 4-3 ruling rejected Democrats arguments that the current maps are heavily skewed to favor Republicans and dilute Democratic voting power.

Republican majorities in the Legislature grew after the map it drew was adopted in 2011, even as Democrats won election to statewide office. The court’s ruling makes it all but certain those GOP majorities will stay in place for the next decade.

The conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty brought the lawsuit and argued that the fairest and most neutral way to resolve redistricting was to take a “least change” approach and adjust only for population changes. Democrats and their allies have argued that the new maps should be drawn from scratch.

But the Supreme Court’s conservative majority said changes to the current maps should be limited to population shifts made apparent by the once-a-decade census. It also said it will not take into account the partisan makeup of the districts, rejecting the Democratic argument that not considering that will only entrench the current GOP majorities.

“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,” the court said.

In explaining why the court wouldn’t consider the partisan makeup of districts, Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote for the majority that those are “political questions, not legal ones.”

“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 wrote.

Sachin Chheda, director of the Fair Elections Project, said the majority of the court “has once again demonstrated its loyalty is to the Republican Party, not the laws of Wisconsin.”

“Whatever comes from this corrupt nonsense, if it’s not fair to our state, it shouldn’t be accepted by federal courts, and most importantly, it won’t be accepted by the people of Wisconsin,” Chheda said.

States are tasked with redrawing boundary lines every decade after each census. Republicans controlled the Legislature and governor’s office in 2011, the last time it was done. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vetoed the Republican maps this year, putting the battle in court. Evers called the maps “gerrymandering 2.0.”

There is also a federal lawsuit pending brought by Democrats, but that court has said it will defer for now to the state lawsuit. It’s not clear if the federal court would take up redistricting after the state Supreme Court has completed the case.

Democrats pushed for the federal courts to enact new maps, just as they have done in recent decades when the Legislature and governor couldn’t agree. The state Supreme Court last handled redistricting in 1964.

Justices Bradley, Brian Hagedorn, Patience Roggensack and Annette Ziegler ruled for the majority. Liberal justices Rebecca Dallet, Ann Walsh Bradley and Jill Karofsky dissented.

In the dissent, Dallet noted that federal courts have historically resolved redistricting issues. The Supreme Court’s ruling that minimal changes be made to the current GOP-drawn maps “all but guarantees” that it will not be neutral and nonpartisan when taking on redistricting, Dallet wrote.

“Adopting a least-change approach is an inherently political choice,” Dallet wrote. “Try as it might, the majority is fooling no one by proclaiming its decision is neutral and apolitical.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Judge J. Michelle Childs, who was nominated by President Barack Obama to the U.S. District C...
Associated Press

At least 3 judges eyed as Biden mulls Supreme Court pick

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is eyeing at least three judges for an expected vacancy on the Supreme Court as he prepares to quickly deliver on his campaign pledge to nominate the first Black woman to the nation’s highest court, according to aides and allies. With Justice Stephen Breyer planning to retire, early discussions […]
20 hours ago
Associated Press

Samsung reports robust profit based on chip strength

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Samsung Electronics Co. said Thursday its operating profit for the last quarter rose by more than 53% from the same period last year as it continued to thrive during the pandemic while relying on its dual strength in parts and finished products. Samsung’s operating profit of to 13.9 trillion won […]
20 hours ago
Associated Press

Another Navy officer pleads guilty in wide-spanning scandal

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A U.S. Navy commander admitted in federal court to sending a Malaysian defense contractor classified ship schedules for the Navy’s 7th Fleet in exchange for extravagant meals, luxury travel, cash and the services of prostitutes. Commander Stephen Shedd is the third member of the 7th Fleet to plead guilty to bribery […]
20 hours ago
FILE - Cristina Licup receives her COVID-19 booster shot where she works at the Hebrew Home at Rive...
Associated Press

Vaccine mandate to kick in for first wave of health workers

Health care workers in about half the states face a Thursday deadline to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine under a Biden administration mandate that will be rolled out across the rest of the country in the coming weeks. While the requirement is welcomed by some, others fear it will worsen already serious […]
20 hours ago
Workers walk over London Bridge towards the City of London financial district during the morning co...
Associated Press

England lifts COVID restrictions as omicron threat recedes

LONDON (AP) — Most coronavirus restrictions including mandatory face masks were lifted in England on Thursday, after Britain’s government said its vaccine booster rollout successfully reduced serious illness and COVID-19 hospitalizations. From Thursday, face coverings are no longer required by law anywhere in England, and a legal requirement for COVID passes for entry into nightclubs […]
20 hours ago
FILE - Stewart Rhodes, founder of the citizen militia group known as the Oath Keepers speaks during...
Associated Press

Magistrate orders Oath Keepers leader jailed until trial

PLANO, Texas (AP) — The founder and leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia group must remain behind bars until he goes on trial on sedition charges arising from last year’s assault on the U.S. Capitol, a federal magistrate ruled Wednesday. Stewart Rhodes had been jailed sincehis Jan. 13 arrest on charges that he plotted […]
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Arizona State University

This is the best year to get your MBA

Getting a master’s degree is a major commitment of time, energy, and money, so returning to school — even if you’re thinking about a part-time program that allows you to keep working — is one of the biggest decisions of your career.
...
ENVOQUE MD

Thyroid issues: Here are the warning signs and what to do

In a 100-person office in the United States, an estimated 12 co-workers, employees and loved ones, will likely develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime. That’s because, according to the American Thyroid Association, more than 12% of the U.S. population will experience thyroid issues.
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 27: Wide receivers John Brown #12 and Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona C...
Arizona Department of Gaming

The most memorable games in Arizona sports history every fan needs to know

Sports teams in Arizona have seen their fair share of instant classic games, but there's a few that every fan needs to know.
Top Wisconsin court affirms GOP’s preferred approach to maps