Wisconsin’s Republican lawmakers are seeking to push the state’s decennial redistricting battle before the U.S. Supreme Court, after the Wisconsin Supreme Court approved voting maps submitted by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.
In November, the state court said it would take a least-changes approach when approving new Congressional, state Senate and state Assembly district maps, and last Thursday it determined the governor’s plan most closely met the rule.
Debra Cronmiller, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, which also proposed voting maps to the court, said the decision was a bittersweet victory, as Evers’ maps still are based on gerrymandered districts from 2011.
“Using the least-change approach meant all of us who submitted maps for consideration were kind of boxed into a map that would retain a certain amount of partisan gerrymander,” Cronmiller contended.
While Evers’ plan will keep the GOP in control of the Legislature, Democrats generally praised the state high court’s decision, as the Republicans’ maps would likely increase their control of state government and Wisconsin’s congressional seats. Republican leaders argued Evers’ maps moved too many Black and Hispanic voters, which Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said “intentionally watered down minority representation for political gain.”
Wisconsin’s current maps were drawn and passed by GOP lawmakers a decade ago, when they controlled the Legislature and governor’s office. Cronmiller pointed out even if Evers’ maps are still somewhat gerrymandered, it can be overcome through strong voter participation.
“The calculus baked into any partisan-drawn map is assumptions around who is going to come vote,” Cronmiller noted. “If we disrupt that calculus by sending all registered and eligible voters to the polls, all bets are off.”
Legislative Republicans have asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to hold off on implementing the new maps until the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in. As of Sunday evening, the state’s high court hadn’t indicated whether it would do so. Assuming they survive any further legal challenges, Evers’ maps will be in place for the next decade.