Mike Moen, Producer
Tuesday, November 21, 2023
The Wisconsin Supreme Court today takes up a much-anticipated case involving the state’s political boundaries. Oral arguments begin in a lawsuit filed by Democratic voters who want the state’s Republican-drawn political maps tossed out. The case follows many years of Wisconsin being described by election analysts as one of the most gerrymandered states in the nation. It’s also being heard with liberals now having a majority on the state’s high court. The redistricting process might not resonate with all voters.
Nick Ramos, executive director of the watchdog Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, urges the public to pay attention and said there’s a lot at stake.
“For over 12 years now, we’ve been living under a very rigged gerrymandered map with a rigged gerrymandered Legislature,” he explained.
Wisconsin is considered a “50-50” state for statewide elections, but Republican lawmakers hold overwhelming majorities in the Legislature. Republicans have long defended how they’ve drawn up districts. This case doesn’t focus on their seat advantage, but rather on two constitutional issues: the separation of powers involving a past ruling on current maps, and whether the districts are contiguous enough.
Ramos said legal cases in general can take time to play out. But he predicts a rather quick timeline for a decision because of the potential implications for 2024 legislative races.
“If there is a situation where the court looks at the maps and says they’re unconstitutional – for whatever reason – and then if that means we’re throwing out the maps and drawing new maps – then it sounds like everybody is going to be up for election,” he continued.
He stressed that a lot would go into whether a full set of new maps is required, including enough notice to Legislative members. In past redistricting rulings in the U.S., courts have ordered varying levels of changes. It’s also possible the case goes before the U.S. Supreme Court, depending on the state-level decision. Meanwhile, the Democracy Campaign is helping lead rallies around Wisconsin today, calling attention to the situation.