MILWAUKEE – After the Wisconsin Supreme Court threw out the state’s legislative maps in a late-year twist for politics in the state, the question that’s immediately raised is: what’s next? University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee Professor of Urban Planning Mordecai Lee joined Wisconsin’s Afternoon News on Tuesday, December 26 to break down that very question.
“The State Supreme Court made a very narrow ruling. It didn’t say these maps were rigged, it didn’t say these maps are partisan. It said these maps violate one section of the state constitution that requires that legislative districts be contiguous,” Lee said.
That section of the constitution requires that all boundaries of legislative districts be in contact – as Lee said, “no islands.”
That could have consequences for recourse that Republicans are seeking regarding the old maps. Wisconsin Republicans, including Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, immediately threatened to take the matter to the United States Supreme Court as soon as the decision came down on Friday, December 22.
Lee said that the highest court in the land has limited jurisdiction since the issue is entirely with whether the maps follow the state constitution.
“The Supreme Court has general national criteria, but not about a narrow concept of contiguity,” Lee said. “So I’m not sure that the U.S. Supreme Court is going to be the refuge that Republicans think it will be.”
The court has ordered the GOP-controlled Legislature to draw the maps, which would need the signature of Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat who has in the past been opposed to GOP efforts at redistricting, to become law. However, in the case that a compromise is not reached, the court has said they’ll take charge of the process in order to have new maps in place for 2024 elections.
“Do Republicans want to roll the dice by refusing to compromise, and who knows what they end up with? And similarly, with Democrats, the governor – will he just roll the dice and hope to get a better outcome than a compromise?” Lee said. “I think as time passes between now and March 15, the appeal, the sexiness of a compromise is going to get stronger.”
The state elections commission has said any new maps must be in place by that March 15 deadline if the new districts are going to be used for the 2024 election