Attorneys for the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to uphold GOP-drawn legislative boundaries, saying a ruling that found them to be unconstitutional was “dangerously” wrong. The filing comes in support of separate and similar arguments made by Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel in his appeal of a three-judge panel’s ruling last year striking down the maps. The judges ordered new maps to be drawn by November, saying the current ones amounted to unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering favoring Republicans. It was the first ruling of its kind after decades of legal battles over redistricting.
The Legislature argued in its Monday filing that the ruling was “profoundly out of step” with decades of lower court decisions rejecting comparable claims of gerrymandering — the practice of drawing boundaries to favor one political party over another. If the ruling is allowed to stand, the Legislature argued, it “would extinguish any last hope for state autonomy in the redistricting process” and make federal lawsuits unavoidable.
Both the Legislature and Schimel are asking the Supreme Court to overturn the earlier decision and allow the current boundaries to remain in effect.
States are required to draw maps for district boundaries every 10 years following a census. Republicans took control of both the Wisconsin state Senate and Assembly in the 2010 election. The maps they drew in 2011 have helped the GOP maintain control of state government in every election since then. Republicans have their largest majority in the state Senate since 1971 and their biggest in the Assembly since 1957.