Wisconsin GOP undoes legislative gerrymander after court pressure

Republicans were willing to pass the new maps only after being cornered by legal challenges in state court.

“Republicans were not stuck between a rock and hard place. It was a matter of choosing to be stabbed, shot, poisoned or led to the guillotine. We chose to be stabbed, so we can live to fight another day,” Republican state Senate caucus Chair Van Wanggaard said in a statement.

The state Supreme Court ruled in December that the
legislative maps were illegal
, ordering the state to create new ones in time for the 2024 election. That ruling came just months after state Justice Janet Protasiewicz was sworn in, flipping the court to a liberal majority following
her blowout win in a spring election

Lawmakers from both parties, the governor and third-party groups submitted proposals to the court for review by outside consultants.

The lines put forward by Evers in court and passed by the Legislature Tuesday still slightly favor Republicans, according to
an analysis from Marquette University Law School
. But they are competitive overall and give both parties a chance to compete for a majority in both legislative chambers.

“It pains me to say it, but Gov. Evers gets a huge win today,”
said state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos
, considered the most powerful Republican in the state.

Legislative Republicans said they feared the court would pick a map that was even more favorable to Democrats. The redistricting experts hired by the court
declared in a report
this month that the plans submitted by the Republican Legislature and a conservative law firm were partisan gerrymanders, but they stopped short of declaring the other proposed maps — including the one from Evers — constitutional, saying only the court can do that.

During the spring election, Protasiewicz repeatedly called the state’s political boundaries
“rigged” on the campaign trail
. Republicans angrily demanded she recuse herself from redistricting decisions once she was sworn in, which she refused to do, and
for a time floated the idea of impeaching her

The maps on Tuesday passed largely along party lines, with only one Democrat in each chamber voting for the plan. Many Democrats said they’d prefer to wait for the court to select revised maps that it deems constitutional, and opposed the legislative adoption of Evers’ maps.

“Legislative Republicans have shown time and time again that they cannot be trusted with legislative redistricting. We fear that Republicans are again up to their usual tricks,” state Assembly Minority Leader Greta Neubauer said in a statement.

The change would impact the state legislative districts, but not congressional districts. However, those
have also been challenged
by a Democratic law firm, which has urged the court to throw out that map before the November election.

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