State Dems File First 2021 Redistricting Lawsuit
Suit argues a federal court should draw new legislative map
Democrats filed the first Wisconsin lawsuit related to the 2021 redistricting process on Friday, arguing a federal court should step in to draw the state’s next set of political maps because state lawmakers and Gov. Tony Evers are unlikely to reach a timely consensus on the matter.
The federal lawsuit comes just one day after the U.S. Census Bureau released the data necessary to begin the redistricting process. It argues the new population numbers show Wisconsin’s current state legislative and congressional districts are vastly out-of-date and that any partisan gridlock and delay in implementing new maps would compromise voters’ constitutional rights. It contends the court should immediately take jurisdiction over the mapmaking process and “establish a schedule that will enable the Court to adopt its own plans in the near-certain event that the political branches fail timely to do so.”
Evers, a Democrat, has called on the GOP-controlled state Legislature to consider maps that will be drawn by a redistricting commission he created, but GOP leaders have not said they will do so. Evers has the power to veto any maps he doesn’t like, which would send the maps to the courts.
The last time maps were drawn under a politically-divided state government, in 2001, the maps ended up going before a federal appellate court, which redrew some districts after a long legal battle between Republicans and Democrats.
The new lawsuit was brought on behalf of six Democratic plaintiffs from Dane, Waukesha and Shawano counties, saying those counties are in state legislative and congressional districts that are now vastly overpopulated, based on the latest Census numbers.
“The census data is very clear that our plaintiffs live in districts that are overpopulated and that if maps are not redrawn before the next election, their constitutional rights will be violated,” Branch said. “They don’t have the same voting power as voters who live in districts that are not overpopulated. Their votes, essentially, count way less than other voters’ (votes).”
The governor and Republican legislative leaders didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit.
Democrats File First Wisconsin 2021 Redistricting Lawsuit was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.
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