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Wisconsin Supreme Court issues three orders in gerrymandering case

By: Steve Schuster, [email protected]//January 25, 2024//

Wisconsin Gerrymandering

Former Attorney General Eric Holder speaking in Milwaukee about Gerrymandering on April 1, 2023 at a campaign event for Judge Janet Protasiewicz (Staff Photo: Steve Schuster)

Wisconsin Supreme Court issues three orders in gerrymandering case

By: Steve Schuster, [email protected]//January 25, 2024//

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Wisconsin’s highest Court issued three orders this week in the case Clarke v. Wisconsin Elections Commission. The case challenges Wisconsin’s gerrymandered political maps.

According to Wisconsin Supreme Court officials, two of the orders were issued at the end of the day Wednesday and the third order was issued Thursday morning.

Court officials said, “The first order deals with a motion for reconsideration filed by the Legislature and the Republican Senator Respondents.  It simply sets a deadline of Friday at 4 p.m. to file responses to the motion.”

Officials noted, “The second order addresses a motion filed by the Legislature and the Republican Senator Respondents asking leave of the Court to file response expert reports in support of their response brief.  That order grants the motion and accepts for filing as of Monday the appendix containing the two response expert reports.”

According to officials, “The third order, which was issued this morning, addresses what the parties filed as a ‘stipulation.’  The ‘stipulation’ was deemed to be a joint motion of the parties to seal some digital files that the Legislature had filed with the clerk’s office in connection with the proposed maps on January 12.  The order grants the motion to seal the electronic storage device (i.e., the flash drive) containing those files and directs the Legislature to file a new electronic storage device containing everything but the digital files that should be sealed.  All of these orders and the motions to which they relate are available on the electronic docket in the public SCCA database and on the Clarke v. WEC page on the Court’s website.”

As previously reported by the Wisconsin Law Journal, in Whitford vs. Gill, a Federal judge ruled gerrymandered districts in Wisconsin unfairly suppressed the voter base. The ruling also found gerrymandering based on racial or ethnic grounds unconstitutional. During former Gov. Scott Walker’s tenure in 2011, redistricting plans created by Republican legislators attempted to increase the likelihood their party would gain seats in the Wisconsin legislature, which was successful.

In a state nearly evenly divided among Republicans and Democrats, Gov. Tony Evers won re-election with 51.2% of the popular vote. However, on the same 2022 mid-term ballot, Republicans running for the state Legislature won more than 60% of vacant seats.

Also as previously reported by the Wisconsin Law Journal, on August 22, filings were made public with the Clerk of the Wisconsin Supreme Court and Wisconsin Court of Appeals in the “Redistricting Cases.”

Gerrymandering a threat to The Republic

“Wisconsin is probably the most gerrymandered state in the country,” said former Attorney General Eric Holder during a Milwaukee campaign visit April 1, 2023 for Judge Janet Protasiewicz.

“Let’s go back to the old Wisconsin, the pre-Scott Walker Wisconsin where people actually have an opportunity to decide who’s going to represent them because in this gerrymandered state, you have folks who are supporting special interests against the desires of the people,” Holder added.

When the Wisconsin electorate was faced with voting for Protasiewicz, or losing candidate Dan Kelly, Holder said, “Every generation of Americans is called upon to defend democracy and this is our time. We cannot fail. We can’t be the first generations of Americans that fails to defend democracy.”

Wisconsin is one of only a handful of other battleground states who will determine the outcome of the 2024 Presidential election.

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