MADISON, WI (CBS 58) — A flipped decision from the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
After a 4-3 vote on Friday, April 15, the state Supreme Court picked Republican lawmakers’ maps in the redistricting fight.
Though the court initially approved maps drawn by Democratic Governor Tony Evers, the vote came after the U.S. Supreme Court in March said Evers’ maps were incorrectly adopted.
This means there will not be the addition of a 7th majority-black district, as was outlined in the democratic maps, as Justices called the adoption of the GOP-drawn maps, were the most valid “race neutral” decision for the state legislature.
District lines impact the voting percentages and outcomes across the state. Since 2010, Wisconsin has had a strong Republican majority, leading to GOP-favored elections. With the most recent redistricting decision, that will likely stay put.
Friday’s decision from the state court came the same day candidates could start circulating nomination papers to get on the ballot for the August Primary.
“Now that the so-called republican maps have been adopted and today candidates are going door to door to get signatures on nomination papers, this election is done,” said UWM Professor Emeritus and political expert, Dr. Mordecai Lee.
With the clock ticking, a vote had to be determined as some candidates weren’t clear if they were running in the correct district.
Lee says with three de-facto republicans and three de-facto democrats in the state Supreme Court, the vote fell on Justice Brian Hagedorn, who is sometimes known to vote on both sides of the aisle.
“Justice Hagedorn did a service to the public by voting with the conservative faction and saying ‘we’ve got to decide,'” Lee said.
While this predicts a heavily partisan race for 2022, Lee notes this means there could be re-litigation for more bipartisan maps for the 2024 election.
As for this year, there have been strong reactions from both democrats and republicans in Wisconsin.
Governor Tony Evers condemned the Supreme Court’s decision, saying in part,
“This is an unconscionable miscarriage of justice for which the people of this state will see no reprieve for another decade.”
You can read the full statement here.
Meantime, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty is pleased with the decision, releasing this statement:
“We are pleased that the Court recognized that our Constitution reserves race-based decision-making for the most extreme situations. The Governor did not justify his race-based redistricting. The Court was right to reject it.”
In addition, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul voiced his disappointment, calling the vote a travesty, and providing CBS 58 with this statement:
“This decision is a travesty for democracy in Wisconsin. The court, applying a new standard in a case it never should have taken, has made one of the most extreme gerrymanders in America even worse. This ruling entrenches control by politicians rather than voters, sapping what life remained from any claim that our legislature meaningfully represents the People.”
Dr. Mordecai Lee reiterates that the issue of partisan redistricting proves the importance of voting in primaries in the state of Wisconsin.
“If you’ve got a district that’s overwhelmingly Republican or overwhelmingly Democratic, that means the November election doesn’t count for anything, because it will for sure elect a member of that party,” Lee said. “It means the August Primary is the election that really elects people.”
Lee says in a typical November general election, about 70 percent of Wisconsinites are voting – whereas in an August Primary, that number is only about 25 percent. This equates to only a quarter of voters choosing the candidates who could represent their district in Madison.
Wisconsin’s Primary filing deadline is June 1. The Primary election is August 9.