Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen asked the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday to overturn a decision by a three-judge panel that found maps of two state Assembly districts violated Latinos’ voting rights. The U.S. Supreme Court is required to take the case and will have the final say on what election maps are in place around the state for the next decade starting this fall. A panel of federal judges in Milwaukee last month ruled that Assembly Districts 8 and 9 on Milwaukee’s south side violated the Voting Rights Act. This month the panel approved new maps for the two districts drawn by Democrats and Latinos who sued the state over the issue. Those who sued, including the immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera, contended that a host of maps for other legislative and congressional districts violated the law, but the panel did not side with them on those arguments.
While Van Hollen will be able to argue that Assembly Districts 8 and 9 were drawn properly by the Legislature, the appeal will also give the plaintiffs a chance to present anew their arguments that maps for other districts should be redrawn. When the panel issued its ruling last month, Van Hollen described it as a victory for the state, saying the maps lawmakers drew “have largely been vindicated.” But on Thursday he said an appeal was necessary.
“While some view the adverse portion of the district court decision as being inconsequential, I disagree,” Van Hollen said in a statement. “Any time a federal court rejects a state redistricting statute, and decides to redraw or adjust a legislative district, it is a serious matter and appropriate for appellate review.”