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Politics & Government

WI Supreme Court Kicks off Final Stage of Redistricting

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Gov. Tony Evers vetoed the Legislature's proposed legislative and congressional maps in November, setting up a legal showdown in the state's Supreme Court.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is expected to issue a final decision on the state's redistricting process in the coming weeks. The court's seven justices heard oral arguments in the case Wednesday, when several parties offered differing views on how the state should handle the once-every-decade process of redrawing voting maps.

Tamara Packard, attorney for Senate Democrats, said a proposal put forward by legislative Republicans unfairly favors GOP candidates.

"The Legislature's map represents the partisan policy choices of Republican legislators, and it does not adhere to 'least change', so it should not be chosen by the court," Packard argued.

In November, the justices said they would take a 'least-change' approach to redistricting, a move which will keep Wisconsin's current voting lines, drafted and approved by Republicans in 2011, largely the same.

Republican lawmakers stated their new maps fall well within legal boundaries, and only take into account population shifts, with no attention to partisan composition of the proposed districts.

Taylor Meehan, attorney for legislative Republicans, said in addition to other factors, new voting districts should meet certain population guidelines.

"Of the least-changes plans submitted here, only the Legislature's plan can be described to meet that constitutional standard," Meehan contended.

The court has received proposed maps from numerous parties, including legislative Republicans, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and a coalition of voting-rights nonprofits.

The parties also are split on the number of minority opportunity districts the city of Milwaukee should have; districts in which a majority of residents are a certain ethnicity, in this case Black or Hispanic. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports Milwaukee currently has six such districts.

Doug Poland, attorney for the nonprofit voting groups, stressed there should be seven in the new maps.

"Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act requires the drawing of an additional seventh Black opportunity district in the Milwaukee area to remedy vote dilution present in the current plan," Poland emphasized.

The Wisconsin Fair Maps Coalition will hold a statewide series of rallies Friday to pressure the court to drop its least-change redistricting plan.

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