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Wisconsin Supreme Court declines to hear congressional maps challenge


Wisconsin Supreme Court declines to hear congressional maps challenge

Mar 01, 2024 | 6:09 pm ET
By Baylor Spears
Wisconsin Supreme Court declines to hear congressional maps challenge
Wisconsin Supreme Court chambers. (Baylor Spears | Wisconsin Examiner)

The Wisconsin Supreme Court declined to hear a case challenging the state’s congressional maps on Friday, meaning that the current maps will remain the maps for the 2024 congressional elections. 

The case was filed by a group of Democratic voters in January — shortly after the Court’s decision in December 2023 to throw out the state’s legislative maps, which led to new maps being passed by the Republican-led Legislature and signed by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers last month. The group that filed the case argued that the Court’s decision to overturn the legislative maps should also apply to the state’s eight congressional districts. 

The Justices did not explain why they wouldn’t hear the case in their order. 

Conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley said in a concurring opinion, which Chief Justice Annette Ziegler joined, that it wasn’t surprising that the motion asking them to overturn the congressional maps came before them. 

Bradley said that the Clarke v. Wisconsin Elections Commission state Legislature redistricting case “incentivizes litigants to bring politically divisive cases to this court regardless of their legal merit. While the court rightfully denies this motion, it likely won’t be long until the new majority flexes its political power again to advance a partisan agenda despite the damage inflicted on the independence and integrity of the court.”

The current congressional maps were proposed by Gov. Tony Evers in 2021, following a decision by the state Supreme Courts that instructed a “least change” approach to drawing maps, meaning any changes needed to be minimal compared to the maps drawn by Republicans in 2011. Those maps were chosen by the state Supreme Court for use in the 2022 elections. The lawsuit argued that the “least change” principle continued partisan unfairness that Republicans introduced to the maps in 2011. 

Justice Janet Protasiewicz, who joined the Court in August 2023, did not participate in the case and wrote in a decision Friday that was because she was not a member of the Court when the 2021 case was decided.

Democrats, including Evers and U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, had supported the lawsuit, agreeing that the maps should be reviewed based on the “least change” approach.