Wisconsin Legislature v. Wisconsin Election Commission – Redistricting (WI)

U.S. Supreme Court, Wisconsin State Supreme Court

After the Wisconsin Supreme Court selected Governor Tony Evers’ proposed state legislative district map over maps offered by the Wisconsin state legislature, the legislature sought emergency relief from the U.S. Supreme Court. Specifically, it filed an emergency application for a stay and injunctive relief and alternative petition for writ of certiorari and summary reversal. The legislature argued that the governor violated the Equal Protection Clause by drawing the map based on racial targets without sufficient justification under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The legislature objected to the fact that Governor Evers’ map includes a seventh majority-minority state assembly district in the Milwaukee area. 

The States United Democracy Center and Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP served as co-counsel to Governor Evers. In defending his state legislative map, Governor Evers argued that: 

  • The legislature lacks standing to bring a challenge under the Equal Protection Clause; 
  • Race was not the predominant factor in adoption of the map; 
  • The Wisconsin Supreme Court was correct in selecting Governor Evers’ map because the legislature’s maps raise serious concerns under the Voting Rights Act; and 
  • The U.S. Supreme Court should not intervene given Wisconsin’s pending candidate qualifying deadlines and the need for certainty in the maps for the upcoming elections. 

On March 12, the legislature filed its reply. Then, on March 23, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s adoption of Governor Evers’ maps and remanded the matter to the Wisconsin Supreme Court for further review and analysis consistent with its opinion. 

On remand before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Governor Evers requested the opportunity to submit additional evidence showing that his maps comply with the Equal Protection Clause and were necessary under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. On March 31, the Wisconsin Supreme Court denied the motion to consider this evidence. Then, on April 15—the day that candidates begin circulating petitions in their districts to be listed on the 2022 ballot—the court ordered adoption of the state legislative map drawn by the state legislature, reducing the number of majority-minority districts in the Milwaukee area to five. The governor’s map, originally adopted by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, had seven majority-minority districts.

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