Wisconsin GOP scores critical legal win in battle over political maps

The Washington Examiner reports that the Supreme Court of Wisconsin has given state Republicans a win in a battle over the state’s general assembly map. 

The court released its 4–3 decision on Friday.

Background

In Wisconsin over the past several months, there has been an ongoing battle between Democrats and Republicans over redistricting. Fueling this battle is the fact that Republicans control the Wisconsin legislature whereas the governorship belongs to the Democrats, with Tony Evers (D) leading the way.

The battle ended up in the courts, and in early March the Wisconsin Supreme Court, adopting a “least changes” approach, selected the maps that were proposed by Evers, both Evers’s maps for the Wisconsin general assembly as well as his maps for Wisconsin’s congressional districts.

Republicans challenged the ruling, and the case was actually taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court. There the justices okayed Evers’s congressional map but they ruled against his map for the general assembly.

After that, it was back to square one with regard to the general assembly map. Both state Republicans and Democrats filed briefings with the Wisconsin Supreme Court arguing, once again, why their assembly map ought to be chosen.

The latest

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has now chosen the assembly map put forward by the Republicans.

The court suggested that central to its ruling is the fact that the Republicans’ map is “race-neutral” whereas the governor’s map isn’t.

“The maps proposed by the Wisconsin Legislature are race neutral,” the decision reads. “The Legislature’s maps comply with the Equal Protection Clause, along with all other applicable federal and state legal requirements. Further, the Legislature’s maps exhibit minimal changes to the existing maps.”

In contrast, the court wrote:

Upon review of the record, we conclude that insufficient evidence is presented to justify drawing state legislative districts on the basis of race. The maps proposed by the Governor, Senator Bewley, BLOC, and CMS are racially motivated and, under the Equal Protection Clause, do not survive strict scrutiny

What now?

This may finally be the end of the legal battle over Wisconsin’s redistricting, although, whether it is or isn’t remains to be seen. Wisconsin Democrats, led by Evers, blasted the court’s decision.

If the Republicans’ assembly map does now stand, the number of majority-Black districts will go from six to five.

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