In a pivotal 4-3 decision, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the state’s legislative maps, providing an advantage to Republicans, are unconstitutional. The decision, coming after liberals gained control of the court earlier this year, carries significant implications for the 2024 election. The current maps, which grant Republicans a supermajority in the state Senate and a strong majority in the state Assembly, were found to violate the state constitution’s requirement for districts to be composed of “contiguous territory.”
The court’s ruling mandates the adoption of new remedial maps before the 2024 elections. It outlines a process for parties to submit their own remedial legislative district maps, supported by expert evidence. The court will appoint a consultant or consultants to evaluate these maps, with opportunities for parties to respond.
While expressing hope for new maps through the legislative process, the court emphasizes its readiness to step in if legislators fail to take action. The decision is part of a broader series of redistricting battles across the country that could impact control over governing bodies.
Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat, welcomed the ruling, expressing optimism that gerrymandered maps endured by Wisconsinites might soon be history. The dissent, written by conservative Justice Annette Ziegler, criticized the court’s involvement in remapping Wisconsin, asserting that this responsibility falls to the other branches of government every ten years after a census.
This ruling follows a spring Supreme Court race where Justice Janet Protasiewicz, now in a liberal-favored seat, criticized the legislative maps as rigged and unfair. The decision resulted from lawsuits filed by Democratic-backed groups after her seating. Legislative Republicans had previously asked Protasiewicz to recuse herself, arguing that she had prejudged the cases. State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, responding to the ruling, expressed disappointment and suggested the U.S. Supreme Court would have the final say.