Attorney General Brad Schimel discussed the Wisconsin redistricting case, which has garnered national attention, and the First Amendment at a talk hosted by University of Wisconsin College Republicans Tuesday.
Schimel was elected Attorney General in January 2015 and previously served as the Waukesha County District Attorney. He will be running for reelection in 2018 against Josh Kaul.
Schimel discussed the current redistricting issue in Wisconsin where the plaintiffs, who are Democrats, believe Republicans won state and federal elections unfairly.
“The U.S. Supreme Court could’ve taken a lot of different states’ [redistricting] cases, but they chose to take Wisconsin’s up because we had developed a good case at the lower level in terms of the trial record,” Schimel said.
Schimel believes Wisconsin, the defendant, has a strong case to win because, according to previous rulings by federal courts, individuals challenging the fairness of their district could only do so in their own district. In this case, however, individuals are challenging the fairness of the maps across the state of Wisconsin.
In 2002, the maps were drawn by the federal court after the Census because there was a disagreement between the Legislature and the governor, Schimel said. Those maps were used in 2010 when Gov. Scott Walker won, and both houses were Republican as well.
The U.S. Supreme Court generally does not want to take part in redistricting because it is normally done under the state Legislature.
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“Normally, courts are reluctant to interfere with the legislative process,” Schimel said.
Schimel also talked about the recent issues of the First Amendment, particularly in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the case regarding a bakery owner in Colorado refusing to bake a cake for a gay couple’s wedding, citing freedom of religion.
People have the right to act how they believe is right when it comes to their own businesses, Schimel said.
“What if a person who is a minority owns a store and a couple of Nazi skinheads come in and demand that [the owner] provides a service?” Schimel said. “Can that person say no? I don’t know that they can if the Supreme Court decides that [the bakery owner] can be forced to make this cake.”