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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Wisconsin Court rejects Evers’ maps in 4-3 split

Experts, legislative members debate whether maps are in violation of Voting Rights Act
Courtesy of Flickr user Adam Fagen

The Wisconsin Supreme Court approved the district maps drawn by the legislature in a split vote of 4-3, giving the already-majority Republican party further power.

Originally, the Wisconsin Supreme Court had voted 4-3 in March to use maps drawn by Gov. Tony Evers. But Republicans appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the maps were not in compliance with the Voting Rights Act, according to Wisconsin Public Radio. The case went back to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and this time the swing vote of Justice Brian Hagedorn was in favor of the Republicans.

US Supreme Court rejects Wisconsin redistricting map

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlawed racial discrimination in voting laws and policies, National Archives said.


“No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color,” Section 2 of the act said.

Gov. Evers drew his maps to comply with the Voting Rights Act, said Robert Yablon, a University of Wisconsin-Madison election law scholar.

Evers’ maps would have included a seventh Black-majority district, according to Forbes. Yablon thinks this would have encouraged better representation of marginalized groups in Wisconsin.

But when the case went to SCOTUS, the court ruled that adding another majority-Black district may not be necessary to comply with the Voting Rights Act, because the act is unclear on specific standards, Yablon said.

Republican-drawn maps force Assembly candidate Syed Abbas to switch districts

State Rep. Scott Allen, R-Waukesha, said the maps drawn by the legislature are more in compliance with the Voting Rights Act because they do not take race into account at all. Allen’s said he believes the Voting Rights Act should be interpreted by legislators to draw boundaries without regard to race.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed with this analysis, ruling that Evers’ maps should not be used because they violated the Voting Rights Act, Allen said.

Justice Hagedorn, who initially voted for Evers maps, was once again the courts’ swing vote, siding with the majority in support of the legislature’s maps after the appeal. Hagedorn changed his vote because he said the maps submitted by the legislature were the only “baseline,” race-neutral proposal.

“The window of opportunity to conduct a fresh trial with new evidence, new briefing, and potentially new arguments is well past,” Hagedorn wrote in his four-page opinion. “Supplementing the record would pose the same logistical challenges. For better or worse, the only reasonable course I see is selecting a map based on the record we have.”

State legislature works across party lines to address racial disparities



Justice Jill Karofsky, who wrote the dissent, thinks this consolidation could be considered a violation of the Voting Rights Act as well, WPR said. Hagedorn also acknowledged that this is a possibility, but for now does not take issue with them.

“This case has been nothing short of an odyssey — a long wandering marked by
many changes in fortune,” Karofsky said in the dissent. “Like all odysseys, the travelers (this court) have had to make several navigational decisions along the way; unfortunately, we have taken numerous wrong turns. The sum total of all that misdirection now leads us to the legally unacceptable maps submitted by the Legislature.”

While there may be further litigation, Allen said maps should remain unchanged so citizens can feel a sense of consistency in their representation districts, noting the Supreme Court’s historical practice of the least-changes approach.

Evers’ maps were designed blunt the force of the current Republican gerrymandering in Wisconsin, Yablon said. Still, Evers’ maps had a strong Republican leaning, evidence of his attempt to make the least changes possible in accordance with the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s request, Yablon said.

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“At a time when our democracy is under near-constant attack, the judiciary has abandoned our democracy in our most dire hour,” Evers said to WPR regarding the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision. “This is an unconscionable miscarriage of justice for which the people of this state will see no reprieve for another decade.”

This decision will mean a significant advantage for the Republicans in voting for the next ten years, WPR said. The GOP drew maps also decreased the number of majority-Black districts to five, according to the New York Times.

With a statewide tie, Republicans would win 63 out of 99 Assembly seats, and 23 out of 33 Senate seats, according to an analysis of the new maps.

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