Democrats celebrated a ruling from the Wisconsin Supreme Court last Thursday that upheld the congressional redistricting maps proposed by Democratic Governor Tony Evers. However, the deeper story reveals that conservatives and Republicans more or less won this year’s redistricting battle from the beginning.
Gov. Evers responded to the 4-3 decision in his favor with a “hell yes,” as swing conservative vote Justice Brian Hagedorn sided with the liberal members of the court to form the narrow majority.
In many “purple” states like Wisconsin, redistricting often comes down to heated court battles. Both sides fight for every possible vote that could provide additional seats for their party in Congress. This time in Wisconsin, as the two parties were battling over competing map plans, a group was working behind the scenes to block activist federal judges from getting involved.
The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) successfully set the rules for which courts could decide redistricting conflicts and what factors judges would be allowed to consider in making a decision. Wisconsin’s status as a battleground state nationally provides a blueprint for other states to follow to stop leftist election revisions like those in 2020.
WILL relied on a Wisconsin Supreme Court case from 2002 to show that the Constitution reserves redistricting decisions to the states, meaning the Wisconsin Supreme Court would be the final authority rather than the federal courts. WILL filed a rules petition in 2020 to that end, but the state Supreme Court denied it. However, WILL used the results of the 2020 Census to file a new case with the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, a similar case already pending in federal court, filed by infamous Democrat lawyer Marc Elias of Russia collusion hoax notoriety. WILL intervened in that case, asking the federal court to defer to the case they filed in the state Supreme Court. The federal court agreed to postpone its action long enough for the state court to act promptly.
When Gov. Evers rejected the GOP map in October, WILL asked the state court to disregard partisan politics in evaluating districting maps. It also asked the court to take a “least changes” approach that would work from the most recently approved map and change it as little as possible to reflect population changes constitutionally.
The court agreed in November, and the principles proposed by WILL now have the power of precedent. The court accepted briefs and proposed maps after that and also conducted oral arguments in January. It issued its 4-3 decision last week.
While Republicans are frustrated that Evers’ map was selected, the critical result of WILL’s case is that the map Evers was able to propose had to be based on a “least changes” approach and was likely nowhere near as gerrymandered as it would have been if Democrats had been able to start from scratch. Democrats also had to temper their map-drawing, knowing that the state Supreme Court would make the final decision and not federal judges.
WILL’s efforts to protect the redistricting process should be emulated by red states nationwide.