The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Wednesday’s Wisconsin legislative maps that had been drawn by Democratic Governor Tony Evers. However, it kept in place the congressional maps of Gov. Scott Walker.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court selected Evers’ legislative and congressional maps earlier in the month after receiving oral arguments from several other groups. After Evers and Republican state legislators couldn’t agree upon a set, the case was taken to court. The Wisconsin Supreme Court requested to be involved.
Evers created an additional majority-minority state district in the state’s legislative map, saying that this was required to be compliant with the Voting Right Act (VRA). Republicans claimed that the state Supreme Court had violated the Equal Protection Clause when it selected race-based maps with no justification.
The Supreme Court ruled that the Wisconsin Supreme Court can “take additional evidence” if the Court prefers to review the maps of the Governor rather than choosing from the various submissions. However, any new analysis must conform to our equality protection jurisprudence. “
The court stated that there was still enough time to approve maps for Wisconsin before the August 9th primary.
The Supreme Court stated that Evers “main reason for drawing the seventh majority black district” was because there is now enough and sufficient compact population of people who are black to fill it. Unsigned per curiam decision stated that this reasoning was “just the kind of uncritical majority minority district maximization we have explicitly rejected.” “
“[Evers] did not provide any other analysis or evidence to support his assertion that the VRA needed the seven majority black districts he created,” said the court.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court told parties it would choose maps which made “the least change” from the existing maps. Justice Brian Hagedorn was the conservative swing vote on the court. He stated that Evers’ proposed senate- and assembly maps produced less overall change than other submissions. Hagedorn found that Evers’ plans were compliant with the federal and state constitutions.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined Justice Elana Kagan in a dissident opinion calling the Supreme Court’s decision “not just extraordinary, but also unnecessary.” “
” Sotomayor stated that the Wisconsin Supreme Court had correctly preserved the possibility for a plaintiff to bring a challenge under the Voting Rights Act or equal protection in the appropriate forum. I would let that process unfold rather than complicating the proceedings by a summary reverse. “
Democrats likely would have made some gains under Evers’ proposal, but it was likely that Republicans would keep their majorities in the legislature.
Wisconsin’s adopted congressional map will remain in place, since the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an attempt by Republican congressmen to overturn those lines. These lines will likely give the GOP an advantage in Wisconsin’s congressional delegation.
The Supreme Court so far has not ordered redrawing of maps in Congress that were already passed. In their decisions, the court cited the upcoming primary election dates as reason to not drastically change congressional lines before the 2022 midterm elections.
The Alabama high court stopped and ordered the lower federal court in Alabama to rededicate the state’s congressional maps. It also rejected attempts by Democrats and anti-gerrymandering activists to create a new Black-majority district to the state’s Congress.
In Pennsylvania and North Carolina, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Republican-led attempts to throw out the maps adopted by their respective state supreme courts. The maps maintained a competitive and equal political divide between Republican and Democratic seats.
But in their decisions this redistricting cycle, conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court justices left the door open for these maps to be changed after 2022, and for a debate on how much power state courts should have over the redistricting process.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote a dissenting opinion to the North Carolina court’s decision. He cited the U.S. Constitution’s Elections Clause which states that the “Times of, Places, and Manner for holding Elections For Senators and Representatives shall be determined in every State by the Legislature thereof.” Alito agrees with Republican challengers who claim that redistricting is a state-exclusive power.
“If we take the election clause seriously, then there should be some limitation on state courts’ authority to override actions of state legislatures in determining rules for conduct of federal elections.” he wrote in the dissent ..
Republican leaders in North Carolina’s legislature have filed another request to the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its argument on the Elections Clause.
Four states are still in the process of redrawing their congressional lines, while at least 21 states are currently in or have seen litigation over their passed congressional or state legislative lines, according to the Brennan Center.
CBS News Political reporter.