The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Friday that the Republican-controlled state Legislature must redraw legislative maps ahead of the 2024 election.
The 4-3 decision could have huge implications in the strategic battleground state.
“Four of the state’s six past presidential elections have been decided by fewer than 23,000 votes,” The Hill wrote.
If Wisconsin’s GOP-led Legislature and Democrat governor cannot agree on a new plan, the court reportedly is prepared to replace the current district boundary lines.
In 4-3 ruling, Wisconsin Supreme Court orders new legislative maps before 2024 election in huge win for Democrats
Liberal Justice Janet Protasiewicz sided with liberal majority
— Scott Bauer (@sbauerAP) December 22, 2023
BREAKING: Wisconsin Supreme Court orders new legislative maps in redistricting case brought by Democrats https://t.co/W05N5UiiZ7
— The Associated Press (@AP) December 22, 2023
The Hill reports:
Justice Jill Karofsky, writing for the majority, said Wisconsin’s current maps violate the state constitution’s contiguity requirements, writing that some 50 of 99 assembly districts and 20 of 33 senate districts include “separate, detached territory.”Advertisement
“We hold that the contiguity requirements…mean what they say: Wisconsin’s state legislative districts must be composed of physically adjoining territory,” Karofsky wrote. “The constitutional text and our precedent support this common-sense interpretation of contiguity.”
The parties in the lawsuit will be allowed to submit maps to the court, in addition to supporting arguments and expert evidence. Before the 2024 election, remedial maps will be adopted by the court unless the GOP-controlled legislature passes maps the state’s Democratic governor will approve.
“It’s clear to me that a Republican-controlled Legislature that has consistently gerrymandered itself into comfortable, partisan majorities for more than a decade is incapable of preparing fair, nonpartisan maps deserving of the people of this state. I agree with the Court’s determination that these maps are unconstitutional because the districts lack contiguity,” Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers said.
“Wisconsin is a purple state, and I look forward to submitting maps to the Court to consider and review that reflect represent the makeup of our state,” he added.
My statement regarding the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision in Clarke v. WEC. ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/ewSSLe6yAW
— Governor Tony Evers (@GovEvers) December 22, 2023
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel added:
The court ordered lawmakers to have new maps adopted for the August legislative primary. Wisconsin Elections Commission officials have said new maps must be in place by March 15.
The ruling forces half of the state Senate and the full Assembly to run in new legislative districts. Republicans currently hold 64 of 99 seats in the state Assembly and a supermajority in the state Senate, with 22 of 33 seats.
The ruling delivers a political landmine ahead of the 2024 presidential cycle that will all but certainly focus on the battleground state of Wisconsin. It’s the latest chink in Republican power since GOP dominance in Wisconsin state government began diminishing in 2016, when Donald Trump became president.
Since then, Republicans have lost the governor’s office and control of the state Supreme Court.
In a narrowly divided state that often decides statewide races by a few thousand votes, Republicans have held wide majorities in the state Legislature for years.
“The case was pre-decided before it was even brought,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said in a post on the social media platform X. “Sad day for Wisconsin when the state supreme court just said last year that the existing lines are constitutional. Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court will have the last word.”