Wisconsin Public Radio

Lawsuit Filed To Overturn Republican-Drawn Legislative Maps

Progressive law firms asking now-liberal-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to throw out controversial maps.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - Aug 2nd, 2023 03:48 pm
An attendee sits in the crowd and listens as state legislators discuss redistricting during a hearing Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021, in at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

An attendee sits in the crowd and listens as state legislators discuss redistricting during a hearing Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021, in at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

A coalition led by progressive law firms and Democratic voters has filed a lawsuit with the Wisconsin Supreme Court to overturn the state’s Republican-drawn legislative maps, a move that comes one day after liberals took control of the court for the first time in 15 years.

The lawsuit argues the state’s current legislative district lines, drawn originally by Republicans in 2011 and updated in 2021, violate the Wisconsin Constitution. It asks the court to declare them invalid and eventually decide on new maps.

Should plaintiffs succeed, every state senator would have to run for election under new districts in 2024, effectively resetting a chamber where Republicans currently hold a veto-proof two-thirds majority that gives them the power to impose their legislative will on Democrats.

Attorney Jeff Mandell, a partner at the law firm Stafford Rosenbaum and president of the board for the liberal group Law Forward, said the current legislative map has distorted the state for more than a decade, calling it an affront to democracy.

“Every day that it continues is a violation of the most fundamental rights of every Wisconsinite,” Mandell said. “It must be ended as soon as possible.”

A challenge to Wisconsin’s legislative maps was widely expected after Justice Janet Protasiewicz won her race in April. During her campaign for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Protasiewicz repeatedly called the legislative maps “rigged,” saying she hoped the court would get a chance to reconsider the maps.

In a statement issued after the lawsuit was filed, Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, criticized the timing of the case.

“Instead of redefining their radical political platform to match the values of everyday Wisconsinites, liberal Democrats are counting on judicial fiat to help them gain power,” LeMahieu said. “The timing of this lawsuit questions the integrity of the court.”

The lawsuit would not challenge Wisconsin’s congressional map, but it would not close the door to a lawsuit down the road. Republicans currently hold six out of eight U.S. House districts, but Democrats are vying to flip two of those seats in the next election.

The case was filed with the Wisconsin Supreme Court Wednesday as an “original action” petition, meaning it asks the court to hear the case directly rather than let the lawsuit proceed through the state court system first. Four of the court’s seven justices would need to agree to that expedited timeline, meaning that if all four liberal justices want to pursue the case, they could.

Editor’s note: This story will be updated.

New lawsuit seeks to overturn Wisconsin’s Republican-drawn legislative maps was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

3 thoughts on “Lawsuit Filed To Overturn Republican-Drawn Legislative Maps”

  1. mkwagner says:

    Look whose calling the kettle black, as my grandmother would say. For well over a decade the RRRs (radical reactionary republicans) have ignored the will of Wisconsin voters consistently on issues such as medical marijuana, school funding, prison reform, AND fair legislative maps. With hope, this lawsuit will begin the process of reasserting democratic principles in Wisconsin.

  2. twmccormack13@gmail.com says:

    The Republican-controlled state senate has also imposed its will on revenue sharing with the city and county of Milwaukee.
    Their idea of “sharing” includes their heavy handed tactics that attach strings to a high percentage of the dollars shared, and then dictating how the revenue they so generously bestow to Milwaukee can and cannot be spent.

  3. ZeeManMke says:

    Who exactly exhibits the “values of everyday Wisconsinites” that Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg is praising? The 3,000 97% white people in Oostburg?
    Statewide vote:
    1,021,370 voted for Judge Janet.
    818,286 voted for Daniel Kelly.

    The facts show everyday people here favored her. Of course, “everyday” people are LeMahieu’s dog whistle – what he means are white Republicans. Too bad! They had 15 years to do something for the people. Instead, they attacked our largest cities, issued bizarre rulings, subjected people to danger and showed the country our Court was a laughingstock. Get used to it, the people rejected Republicans in every way. Only that goofball failed to beat a guy so stupid you wonder how he gets by.

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