The US Supreme Court has issued a stay halting a lower court’s ruling that the Wisconsin legislature must redraw their legislative lines by November. Instead, the Supreme Court will take up the issue during its next session beginning in October and decide whether Wisconsin’s legislative boundaries are constitutional.
From the Washington Times:
The Supreme Court added another thorny political case to its docket next term, agreeing Monday to rule on whether Wisconsin’s legislative districts are so politically loaded that they violate the Constitution.
The justices may have given an early sense for which way they’re leaning, issuing an order halting a lower court’s ruling that had demanded Wisconsin redraw its maps by November.
While courts have overturned legislative district maps based on racial discrimination, judges have shied away from striking down districts drawn to maximize a party’s political power.
The new case out of Wisconsin will test that.
Joint reaction from Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald:
“We are encouraged by the decision by the Supreme Court to hear Wisconsin’s appeal of Gill v. Whitford and grant a stay of the lower court’s order. Wisconsin lawmakers have maintained that our state’s redistricting process and legislative maps are legal and constitutional, and we look forward to the Court’s final decision which we are confident will affirm our position.”
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel:
”The stay is particularly important because it preserves the Legislature’s time, effort, and resources while this case is pending. In our stay application, I argued that requiring the Legislature to re-draw district maps this year would have been a waste of resources. I also argued that it was likely that the lower court’s decision would be eventually overturned. I am pleased that the Court granted our request on this important issue.”
From the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty:
Today, in a highly significant development, the United States Supreme Court has decided to hear Gill v. Whitford, the long running challenge to Wisconsin’s legislative maps. The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty filed an amicus brief urging the Court to take the case. Following is a statement from Rick Esenberg, WILL president and general counsel, on today’s decision:
“In this case, what the plaintiffs have effectively asked the Court to do is gerrymander in favor of competitiveness, that is, to draw maps that compensate for the fact that Democrat voters tend to be more geographically concentrated. That’s a political judgment the Court has repeatedly recognized as nonjusticiable.
“As Judge Griesbach noted in his dissent in Gill, the remarkable thing about the case is that these allegedly gerrymandered maps actually respect all traditional redistricting principles. We are confident the Supreme Court, as it has in the past, will decline to insert the judiciary into political questions on whether or not to make up whatever natural disadvantage these maps may confer.”
Governor Scott Walker, from WSAW-TV:
During a stop at G.D. Jones Elementary School in Wausau, the governor called the criticism “woefully ignorant.” “If your argument is the maps are unfair, it should only happen once,” he said. He used the vote in urban areas like Milwaukee and Madison as an example: “I don’t care how you draw the maps there, they’re always going to win by big margins,” Walker said.
He went on to say once you leave the state’s metropolitan areas, it’s more competitive across the state. “The maps were in place and republicans gained seats in ‘12, ‘14, and ’16,” he said. “The reason they won, and they’ve added seats in the legislature, is because common sense conservative reform works.”
Walker said in the end, he believes the the plan will be upheld by the US Supreme Court. “I didn’t write the plan,” he said. “The legislature did. But we had our attorneys look through it before we signed it and it very clearly upheld all the criteria that the courts have done in previous [decades] when the legislature was split.”