Supreme Court tosses Wisconsin legislative voting maps

Visitors walk outside the Supreme Court building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Feb....
Visitors walk outside the Supreme Court building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Feb. 21, 2022.(Patrick Semansky | AP)
Published: Mar. 23, 2022 at 12:05 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 23, 2022 at 5:27 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Wednesday threw out Wisconsin state legislative maps that were preferred by the state’s Democratic governor and selected by Wisconsin’s top court.

Republicans had complained that Gov. Tony Evers’ maps moved too many people to create more districts with a majority of Black and Hispanic voters in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act. But while the justices in an unsigned opinion threw out voting maps drawn for the State Assembly and Senate, they left in place state congressional maps.

Gov. Tony Evers was thankful the court kept the congressional maps, but was disappointed by the decision to nix the state legislative maps. He stated that he stands by what he has already proposed.

“If we have to go back to the Wisconsin Supreme Court—who have already called our maps ‘superior to every other proposal’—to demonstrate again that these maps are better and fairer than the maps we have now, then that’s exactly what we’ll do,” Evers said. “I will not stop fighting for better, fairer maps for the people of this state who shouldn’t have to wait any longer than they already have to ensure their voices are heard.”

The justices sent the case back to the Wisconsin Supreme Court saying its members are “free to take additional evidence if it prefers to reconsider the Governor’s maps rather than choose from among the other submissions.”

Two justices, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, said they disagreed with their colleagues’ decision.

Conservative law group Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty President Rick Esenberg supported the high court’s decision, saying it only affirmed what Republicans had been arguing for.

“The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that Governor Evers’ legislative maps violate the equal protection guarantees of the U.S. Constitution by racially gerrymandering districts in the Milwaukee-area,” Esenberg said. “It made clear that this was not justified under the Voting Rights Act. This is a critical victory to ensure that our government not make decisions on the basis of race.”

The Legislature redraws Wisconsin’s congressional and legislative district maps every 10 years to reflect population changes. The process, known as redistricting, can solidify the partisan majority in the Legislature for a decade. With the stakes so high, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Republican lawmakers couldn’t agree on a plan, leading to both sides asking the state Supreme Court to choose between each side’s maps.

Democrats would have made some marginal gains under Evers’ plan, but Republicans would maintain their majorities in the Assembly and Senate, according to an analysis from the governor’s office.

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