Wisconsin Supreme Court, now under liberal control, overturns Republican-favored legislative maps

The Wisconsin Supreme Court listens to arguments during a redistricting hearing in November.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court listens to arguments during a redistricting hearing in November.Ruthie Hauge/Pool/APCNN — 

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday ruled that the state’s legislative maps, which give Republicans the advantage, are unconstitutional and ordered new lines drawn for the 2024 election.

The 4-3 decision overturning the current maps in a key battleground state carries major implications for the 2024 election and comes after liberals won control of the court this spring.

The Wisconsin case is among a slew of redistricting fights across the country that could determine control of governing bodies from local governing boards to state legislatures and the US House of Representatives.

Under the current Wisconsin maps, Republicans enjoy a supermajority in the state Senate and a strong majority in the state Assembly, despite the Badger State being relatively evenly divided politically.

In its ruling Friday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court said that the state constitution requires districts be composed of “contiguous territory.”

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“At least 50 of 99 assembly districts and at least 20 of 33 senate districts violate this mandate, rendering them unconstitutional. We therefore enjoin the Wisconsin Elections Commission from using the current maps in all future elections, as such, remedial 51 maps must be adopted prior to the 2024 elections,” the court wrote.

The court said that all parties “will be given the opportunity to submit remedial legislative district maps to the court, along with expert evidence and an explanation of how their maps comport with the principles laid out in this opinion.” It will appoint a consultant or consultants to help evaluate the remedial maps, and parties could respond to each other and the consultant’s report.

“We set out this process in order to afford all parties a chance to be heard, while bearing in mind the need for expediency given that next year’s elections are fast approaching,” the court wrote. “We begin our process now instead of waiting to see whether the legislative process results in new maps.”

The state high court also said it was prepared to step in should legislators not take action.

“We are hopeful that the legislative process will produce new legislative district maps,” the ruling stated. “However, should that fail to happen, this court is prepared to adopt remedial maps based on the criteria, process, and dates set forth in this opinion and the concurrent order.”

Attorney Sam Hirsch, who argued on behalf of the petitioners, said that his team looks “forward to working through the remedial process to ensure that Wisconsinites can have fair representation in the State Legislature for the first time in more than a decade.”

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, welcomed Friday’s ruling, saying in a statement that he was “as optimistic as ever that, at long last, the gerrymandered maps Wisconsinites have endured for years might soon be history.”

“Wisconsin is a purple state, and I look forward to submitting maps to the Court to consider and review that reflect and represent the makeup of our state,” Evers said.

In her dissent, conservative Justice Annette Ziegler wrote: “This deal was sealed on election night. Four justices remap Wisconsin even though this constitutional responsibility is to occur every ten years, after a census, by the other two branches of government.”

The legislative boundaries were a focus of this spring’s race for the pivotal state Supreme Court seat. During the campaign, now-Justice Janet Protasiewicz, the liberal-favored candidate, called the legislative maps “rigged” and “unfair” and suggested courts should evaluate their constitutionality.

After she was seated in August, Democratic-backed groups filed two lawsuits asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to throw out the Republican-drawn maps.

State legislative Republicans responded by asking Protasiewicz to recuse herself from the cases, arguing she had prejudged them. State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos also floated the possibility of impeaching Protasiewicz if she did not recuse herself.

Vos reacted to Friday’s ruling by saying that the case “was pre-decided before it was even brought.”

“Sad day for Wisconsin when the state https://berikanlah.com supreme court just said last year that the existing lines are constitutional,” he wrote on X. “Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court will have the last word.”

This story has been updated with additional details.

CNN’s Eric Bradner and Brad Parks contributed to this report.

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