The Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a 4-3 ruling on Friday that ordered the state’s legislative maps be redrawn. The decision comes only months after the court’s ideological balance shifted to a progressive majority.
The majority opinion deemed Wisconsin’s current maps unconstitutional. The opinion found that the legislative districts, being non-contiguous, failed to meet the requirements of the state constitution. The new ruling has been hailed by Democrats, who have long contended that the maps were gerrymandered. Republicans have offered sharp criticism and have accused the new liberal majority of pre-judging the case before hearing the arguments from both sides about the record in the case.
BREAKING: Wisconsin Supreme Court orders new legislative maps in redistricting case brought by Democrats https://t.co/W05N5UiiZ7
— The Associated Press (@AP) December 22, 2023
“Given the language in the Constitution, the question before us is straightforward,” wrote liberal Judge Jill J. Karofsky. “When legislative districts are composed of separate, detached parts, do they consist of ‘contiguous territory?’ We conclude that they do not.”
In dissent, conservative Judge Annette Ziegler criticized her colleagues for what she viewed as overreach. “The court of four takes a wrecking ball to the law, making no room, nor having any need, for longstanding practices, procedures, traditions, the law, or even their coequal fellow branches of government,” she wrote.
The key vote in the decision came from liberal Judge Janet Protasiewicz, who recently joined the court. She won the election with the support of major Democrat and globalist donors like George Soros. Her campaign platform focused heavily on the maps that were ruled illegal on Friday. In her campaign, Protasiewicz criticized the current maps as “rigged” and “unfair.”
Republicans, like State Sen. Duey Stroebel (R), spoke for many Republicans when he expressed the view that Friday’s ruling was nothing less than Protasiewicz fulfilling one of her campaign promises to her large donors. “Now that they have control of the court, they legislate from the bench,” Stroebel added.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) praised the decision as he claimed that Republicans gerrymander districts to maintain “comfortable, partisan majorities.”
On the other hand, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos anticipates the issue will escalate to the U.S. Supreme Court. He expressed disappointment, noting the state supreme court’s previous affirmation of the existing lines’ constitutionality.
The court has set a deadline for submitting revised maps from both parties. This decision, while celebrated by Democrats, is viewed by many Republicans as a political maneuver. Dan Lenz of Law Forward, the organization behind the lawsuit, sees the ruling as a triumph for representative democracy, stating, “For too long, rightwing interests have rigged the rules without any consequences.”
The ruling has undeniably intensified the debate over gerrymandering in Wisconsin, a state known for its political divisions. Heather Williams of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee regards the decision as a game-changer, saying, “Wisconsin is one of the worst gerrymandered states in the country, and Republicans have robbed voters of true representation for far too long.”
Judge Ziegler’s dissent highlights the tension between the court’s decision and traditional legislative responsibilities. “This deal was sealed on election night,” she wrote, emphasizing the constitutional responsibility of redistricting lies with the legislative and executive branches.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s controversial decision has significant implications for the state’s political landscape. It will quickly become part of the ongoing debate about the role of the judiciary in political matters and the complex dynamics of redistricting in a polarized environment.