Madison, Wis. (AP) – Wisconsin’s Supreme Court on Friday approved Republican drawings for the state legislature, giving the GOP victory just weeks after Democrat Governor Tony Evers initially approved the drawings.
The court turned upside down in March after the US Supreme Court ruled that Evers’ maps had been misappropriated. And came just as candidates were beginning to roll out their nomination papers to appear on this year’s ballot without being sure about the district boundaries.
Democrats would have benefited somewhat under Evers’s plan, but Republicans will retain their majority in the Legislature and Senate, according to an analysis by the governor’s office.
Evers’ map created seven majority-black state legislative districts in Milwaukee, up from the current six. There were only five on the map of the Republican-controlled legislature.
The Supreme Court of Wisconsin approved Evers’ map on March 3, but the US Supreme Court overturned it on March 23. The Supreme Court ruled that Evers’ map “failed to consider a racially neutral alternative that did not include the seventh majority.” The black district will deny equal political opportunity to black voters.
Evers told the state Supreme Court It may accept his map with some further analysis or alternate with six majority-black districts. The Republican-controlled legislature argued that it should implement its map.
The court in Wisconsin, controlled 4-3 by the Conservatives, sided with the legislature.
Chief Justice Annette Ziegler wrote to the majority that “maps proposed by the governor … are racially motivated and, under the rule of equal protection, fail to undergo rigorous scrutiny.
They wrote maps of the legislature, “racially neutral” and “in accordance with the Equal Protection Act, with all other applicable federal and state legal requirements.”
Conservative swing judge Hekdorn initially backed Evers’ map, but changed his mind when the matter came back to court. In a separate affidavit, he wrote that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling required the state court to accept the ethno-neutral map, and that the legislature’s maps were “the only legally compatible maps we have received.”
The court’s three liberal judges – Jill Karofsky, Ann Walsh Bradley and Rebecca Tolet – disagreed. Karofsky, who writes for minorities, said the legislature’s maps “are no better than the governor’s maps under the rationale of the U.S. Supreme Court.”
“According to the U.S. Supreme Court, if the governor considers the inclusion of a Milwaukee-area majority-minority district ineligible, the legislature is equally skeptical of removing the Milwaukee-area majority-minority district.
Congratulating Speaker Robin Voss on the ruling, Republicans said, “Republicans thought from the beginning that our maps were the best way to go.”
Evers said the decision was “bad” and that the court had backtracked on its earlier finding that the legislature was full of maps to reduce the voting power of black voters.
“At a time when our democracy is under constant attack, the judiciary has abandoned our democracy at its worst,” Evers said.
Republicans have a 61-38 majority in the legislature and 21-12 in the Senate. Even under the GOP map that the state court initially rejected, they were not expected to get a super majority that would violate any Evers veto.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Wisconsin case changed the cycle of redistribution of maps drawn by a state for the first time.
The court has signaled that the basic rules governing the redefinition could be significantly changed. Following the 2019 ruling, the court’s involvement shows that the federal courts have no role to play in stopping the discriminatory Jerome.
In February, It suspended a federal panel of judges ruling that Alabama should redraw its maps to give black people a better view of their choice of representatives, and said it should amend the long-running lawsuit governing it. The High Court ruled in favor of Wisconsin.
The court refused to block the maps in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. But four conservative judges wrote that they wanted to rule on the novel legal principle that state legislatures have supreme power over state courts in drawing maps.
Although the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Wisconsin’s legislative maps, it accepted the congressional maps proposed by Evers. Republicans currently hold five of the state’s eight seats. That map made one of those GOP districts more competitive.
Redefining is the process of redrawing political boundaries based on the latest census. Mapmakers can create an advantage for their political party by stuffing opponent voters in a few districts or spreading them across multiple districts – a process known as gerimandering.
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