Wisconsin Supreme Court rules that Republican-drawn legislative map unconstitutional

 December 23, 2023

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the state's Republican-drawn legislative map is unconstitutional and must be redrawn before the 2024 presidential election.

The decision was 4-3 in favor of Democrats.

The main problem with the current maps is that the majority of them include "separate, detached territory" rather than the "physically adjoining territory" required in the state constitution.

“We hold that the contiguity requirements … mean what they say: Wisconsin’s state legislative districts must be composed of physically adjoining territory,” Justice Jill Karofsky wrote for the majority. “The constitutional text and our precedent support this common-sense interpretation of contiguity.”

How it will work

The parties to the lawsuit will get the chance to submit maps for consideration. The court will then choose the maps unless the legislature can pass its own set of maps and have them approved by Democrat Governor Tony Evers first.

The lawsuit over the legislative map was filed a day after liberal Justice Janet Protasiewicz joined the court in January and flipped the majority from Republican to Democrat.

Protasiewicz campaigned on complaining about the maps as "unfair" and "rigged" and said she would change them if elected.

While Republicans have a 22-11 supermajority in Wisconsin's state senate, they are a little bit short of that in the House at 64-35.

Some of these large majorities may have come from the map redrawing in 2011 by Republicans, or at least that's what Democrats are arguing.

Republicans push back

Republicans had hoped to avoid changing the maps until 2026 and argued that the state constitution does allow districts to be non-contiguous in some cases.

It does seem like that should be an exception rather than a rule in more than half of the cases, though.

Wisconsin is not the only state having issues with redrawing its legislative maps.

More than 12 states have had legal challenges to their electoral maps since the 2020 census was conducted and maps were redrawn using that information.

Gerrymandering is when a political party with majorities in the legislature draws an electoral map that favors their party. It has been done or has been accused of happening since 1812.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
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