On December 22, 2023, the State Supreme Court issued a ruling that Wisconsin’s state legislative district maps are unconstitutional and the maps for each such district must be redrawn before the 2024 elections. State Supreme Court justices voted 4-3 in favor of this ruling. The decision focused on specific state legislative districts that include non-contiguous portions of land, which the court found violated the state constitution.
Specifically, the court ruled that the legislature must redraw the boundaries for each state Assembly and state Senate district in advance of the August 2024 primary election. If the legislature and Governor Evers are not able to agree on legislation creating new district boundaries, the court noted that it will decide on the new boundaries. As a practical matter, the state Elections Commission has stated that new district boundaries will need to be finalized by March 15, 2024.
After the December 22 decision, Legislative Republicans asked the State Supreme Court to reconsider its decision. The State Supreme Court rejected that request. Subsequently, the State Supreme Court requested that parties to the lawsuit submit new suggested district maps. Seven such maps were submitted to the court on January 13. At this point, two consultants hired by the court will review all these proposed new maps and submit their recommendations to the court by February 1. At that point, the court will select the new state legislative maps, unless the Governor signs a bill creating new maps.
In an unexpected twist, the GOP-controlled Senate and Assembly passed legislation the week of Jan. 22 to create new maps, giving little notice to legislative Democrats of Evers. Republican leadership said the new maps were very close to maps previously proposed by Evers with some small changes to ensure political fairness. Democrats blasted the maps and Evers indicated he would veto the legislation.
Assuming the State Supreme Court ultimately selects the new maps, it is possible that this case will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.