by Benjamin Yount, The Center Square
Three federal judges in Madison are willing to give Wisconsin lawmakers a chance to draw the state’s new political map, but they are also preparing to do it themselves.
The judges on Thursday laid out a path for Wisconsin’s redistricting process in their ruling on a redistricting lawsuit.
The court ruled that the suit, brought by Democrats and voter-activists, can continue. That lawsuit states that it is unlikely that Republican lawmakers and Wisconsin’s Democratic governor will agree on new boundaries for Congress and statehouse seats. The lawsuit asks the federal court to draw the map instead.
"The court and the parties must prepare now to resolve the redistricting dispute, should the state fail to establish new maps in time for the 2022 elections," the judges wrote.
While the judges set the stage for a possible judicial map, they left open the opportunity for Wisconsin lawmakers to draw their map first.
Wisconsin’s constitution explicitly gives the state legislature the responsibility to draw the new political map. The federal judges recognized that.
“As the district court indicated, redistricting matters are primarily the responsibility and duty of the states. We continue to believe that the drawing of Wisconsin’s maps should be resolved by Wisconsin’s political branches and, if necessary, the Wisconsin judiciary,” Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty attorney Anthony LoCoco told The Center Square Friday.
In fact, WILL has asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to draw the map if lawmakers and Gov. Evers cannot come to terms on a new map. The state’s high court has not yet decided what it will do.
Wisconsin’s new political map needs to be in place in enough time for candidates to run in the state’s new districts in next spring’s election.
On Wednesday, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos set a mid-October deadline for suggestions for the new map.
“We recently sent a letter to all representatives and senators inviting input, and to share with their constituents who may be interested. A letter was also sent to the governor’s hand-selected ‘People’s Maps Commission’ for their participation. Submissions will be accepted until Friday, October 15,” Vos said. “It is the duty of the Legislature to draw new boundaries, not a governor or his unelected appointees. If he or any of the members from his commission decide to submit a plan, we will certainly consider what they produce. With this broad public input, we are confident we will create a map that the governor will sign.”
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