December 5, 2021

State High Court Says It Will Make Minimum Changes To Current Maps

State High Court Says It Will Make Minimum Changes To Current Maps Featured Image

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled it will make the minimum changes necessary to the state’s current electoral maps to set new lines for Wisconsin’s legislative and congressional districts, without considering partisan balance. The new district lines will shape what the districts will look like for the next decade.

The ruling puts in place parameters for Democrats and Republicans to follow as they submit proposed maps to the justices to consider.

The Court’s 4-3 ruling is considered a win for Republican lawmakers, who sought the least change from the current maps when drawing new maps and urged the Court not to consider partisan balance in drawing the lines. Republicans drew the current lines when they had full control of the Legislature and governor’s office a decade ago.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision to adopt a minimal approach to redrawing the state’s political districts is a win for Republicans and a setback for Democrats, who could lose one of their three current congressional seats in the state next year as the party labors to hold its slim House majority.

Democrats are seeking larger-scale changes to the existing eight districts, which they say heavily favor Republicans in what’s a politically competitive state. Joe Biden narrowly defeated Donald Trump there in the 2020 election, four years after Trump’s slim victory.

But the Wisconsin court, in a 4-3 decision, said it would tweak maps drawn by Wisconsin Republicans in 2011 “only to remedy malapportionment produced by population shifts made apparent by the decennial census.” That’s likely to cement the GOP’s hold on the delegation for the next decade and aid its efforts to net five seats nationwide to win the House.

The Wisconsin decision underscores the importance of state courts in determining whether voting maps are too partisan. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that federal courts have no constitutional authority to adjudicate claims of political gerrymandering.