GOP vows SCOTUS intervention after Wisconsin Supreme Court's Democratic majority tosses previously approved district maps that favored Republicans

 December 27, 2023

On Friday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court's Democratic majority threw out legislative districting maps deemed favorable to Republicans and ordered new maps drawn that would benefit Democrats ahead of the 2024 elections.

The tossed maps had just been approved last year by the same state court and the U.S. Supreme Court, and Wisconsin's top elected Republican suggested the nation's highest court would once again have the "last word" on how the state's legislative boundaries are drawn, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Ironically, in tossing out the prior Republican-favorable maps over claims of partisan gerrymandering, Wisconsin's Democratic justices seemingly invited more partisan gerrymandering to occur to ostensibly make the maps more electorally competitive and favorable for the swing state's Democratic minority.

Top Republican vows to take case to Supreme Court

Following the Friday ruling from the Wisconsin Supreme Court's Democratic majority to toss out the state's legislative district maps, Republican State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos took to X and posted, "I said this was going to happen earlier this week. The case was pre-decided before it was even brought."

"Sad day for Wisconsin when the state supreme court just said last year that the existing lines are constitutional. Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court will have the last word," he added.

In a statement shared with media outlets, Vos said, "We will pursue all federal issues arising out of the redistricting litigation at the U.S. Supreme Court."

Court's ruling a "Trojan horse" of partisanship, says dissenting justice

At issue here, according to the Wisconsin State Journal, were claims from Democrats that the legislative maps drawn up by the Republican-controlled legislature in 2021, which were approved by both the Wisconsin and U.S. supreme courts in 2022, violated the state's constitution by featuring numerous non-contiguous, or not fully connected, districts throughout the state.

The court's Democratic majority ruled that not only should the new maps feature entirely contiguous or connected districts but also be drawn in such a way to not favor one party over the other -- a purportedly nonpartisan move that will nonetheless benefit Democrats by increasing the number of districts under their control.

In fact, in her dissenting opinion, conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote, "Riding a Trojan horse named Contiguity, the majority breaches the lines of demarcation separating the judiciary from the political branches in order to transfer power from one political party to another."

Indeed, given that the current maps that were previously approved by the high courts give Republicans a 64-35 majority in the Assembly and a 22-11 majority in the Senate, a forced redrawing of those maps to purposefully favor Democrats would erase most if not all of those majorities and would grant Democrats an unearned advantage in the next few election cycles.

GOP likely to point to biased justice in petition for SCOTUS intervention

According to the Journal-Sentinel, Wisconsin Republicans will need a valid reason to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to accept a petition to intervene in the case, and in this instance, the most likely reason would be the prior words and actions of Wisconsin's newest Democratic Justice Janet Protasciewicz.

Republicans have cried foul over the fact that Protasciewicz, when running for the high court seat earlier this year, prejudged the case by declaring the approved existing maps "rigged" and unconstitutional while accepting $10 million in campaign contributions from state Democrats who she then clearly favored in the ruling after refusing repeated demands to recuse herself from the case.

If Republicans can prove that the justice should have recused herself due to partisan bias -- or, failing that, separately convince the nation's high court that the ordered new maps violate federal law -- the entire case could be tossed out and the existing district maps restored.

Per the State Journal, Wisconsin's high court has reportedly given the GOP legislature one last chance to redraw its maps in a way that meets the approval of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. Meanwhile, the court also already appointed two purported experts to redraw the maps in a supposedly neutral manner that will be imposed by the court if the legislature and governor can't reach an agreement.

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