(Headline USA) A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday adopted “least change” legislative and congressional redistricting maps submitted by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, a plan that largely preserves the current district lines that give Republicans majorities.
That means that Republicans are highly likely to remain in the majority as they have been for the past decade. But the maps adopted by the court were not as favorable to the GOP as other alternatives submitted by the Republican-controlled legislature and conservatives that the activist court rejected.
“Hell yes,” Evers said in a statement reacting to the ruling.
“The maps I submitted to the Court that were selected today are a vast improvement from the gerrymandered maps Wisconsin has had for the last decade and the even more gerrymandered Republicans maps that I vetoed last year,” the radical leftist claimed baselessly.
Nationwide, “sue till blue” Democrat activists, led by former Attorney General Eric Holder’s National Democratic Redistricting Committee, have waged lawfare on GOP-led legislative maps, demanding court intervention, with largely successful results.
Blue states, on the other hand, including New York, Illinois and California, have been able to get away with egregious gerrymandering, despite the loss of seats due to residents fleeing their radical policies.
Those courtroom battles threaten to undo the will of the voters and offset any gains in an election cycle when all indications suggest a red wave of backlash against Democrats’ hegemonic control.
Wisconsin’s high court had previously said it would not make significant changes to the boundary lines that were already in place and created by Republicans in 2011, limiting the ability of Evers and liberals to submit maps more favorable to Democrats.
The Evers maps would elect 44 Democrats and 55 Republicans in the Assembly, and 13 Democrats and 20 Republicans in the Senate, based on an analysis from the governor’s office. Currently, Republicans hold a 61-38 majority in the Assembly and 21-12 advantage in the Senate.
Republicans would win five congressional seats and Democrats would have three, the same breakdown as it is now, according to Evers’ office.
Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, said in a statement released Thursday night: “Evers drew racially gerrymandered maps behind closed doors with no public input. His maps intentionally watered down minority representation for political gain and violated the open and transparent process the public deserved.”
Justice Brian Hagedorn, who is often a swing vote on the court, wrote the 4-3 majority opinion. He was joined by the court’s three liberal justices, while the three conservatives dissented.
“We said we would choose maps that minimize changes from current law and evaluate maps for compliance with state and federal law,” Hagedorn wrote for the majority. “In so concluding, we rejected an approach that involved this court making significant policy decisions or weighing competing policy criteria.”
Justice Annette Ziegler, in her dissent, said choosing the Evers maps was ″an exercise of judicial activism, untethered to evidence, precedent, the Wisconsin Constitution, and basic principles of equal protection.”
The Legislature’s attorney argued that the governor’s legislative map was unconstitutional because it moved too many people to create more districts with a majority of black and Hispanic voters.
All of the submitted maps had to adhere closely to the current boundary lines, per the court’s earlier order. The court previously ruled that changes to the current maps would have to be limited to population shifts made apparent by the once-a-decade census.
Attorney General Josh Kaul, a Democrat, claimed the court’s decision means “much fairer maps” than those of the last decade, but he said the least-changes standard “effectively prevented the adoption of truly fair maps.”
Republican legislative leaders did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
There is also a pending federal lawsuit brought by Democrats and activist groups. They could attempt to get more favorable maps adopted that way.
In 2018, Democrats won every statewide race but Republicans held more than 60% of legislative seats. Republicans blamed bad Democratic candidates, in part, while Democrats argued that gerrymandering enshrined the GOP advantage.
Republicans controlled the Legislature and governor’s office in 2011, the last time redistricting was done. Evers vetoed the Republican maps last year, putting the battle in court. Evers called the maps “gerrymandering 2.0.”
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press