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Supreme Court orders maps consultants to allocate fees in gerrymandering case

By: Steve Schuster, [email protected]//April 2, 2024//

Article IV, Sections 4 and 5 of the Wisconsin Constitution stiupulate that state legislative districts must consist of "contiguous territory." Photo WICourts

Supreme Court orders maps consultants to allocate fees in gerrymandering case

By: Steve Schuster, [email protected]//April 2, 2024//

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The Wisconsin Supreme Court issued an order Tuesday giving an April 9 deadline to the court’s political map consultants in Clarke vs. Wisconsin Election Commission.

On Feb. 25, 2024, the consultants submitted a statement of fees and expenses totaling $128,158.00.

The Supreme Court‘s Monday order stipulates “parties shall inform the court, in writing, on what basis the fees and expenses of the consultants should be allocated to the parties in this matter, and why that basis is preferable over other methods of allocation.”

According to court documents obtained by the Wisconsin Law Journal, on Dec. 22, 2023, the court appointed the team of Dr. Bernard Grofman and Dr. Jonathan Cervas to serve as the court’s consultants in this matter and instructed the director of States Courts to enter into one or more retainer agreements between the court and Dr. Grofman and Dr. Cervas for their services.

The director of State Courts entered into retainer agreements with Dr. Grofman and Dr. Cervas on Jan. 3, 2024. The court’s Dec. 22, 2023 order provided that the reasonable costs and expenses incurred by Dr. Grofman and Dr. Cervas pursuant to the retainer agreements shall be borne by the parties as determined by the court in a future order.

As previously reported by the Wisconsin Law Journal, the August 2023 lawsuit asked Wisconsin’s newly liberal-controlled state Supreme Court to throw out Republican-drawn legislative maps as unconstitutional, the latest legal challenge of many nationwide that could upset political boundary lines before the 2024 election.

During a Feb. 1 radio address, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said, “I was proud to submit maps to the Wisconsin Supreme Court to consider that are responsive to the will of the people, avoid partisan bias, and increase the number of competitive legislative seats.

“And I remain as optimistic as ever that Wisconsinites will soon have the fair maps they deserve at long last,” Evers added.

As previously reported, in October, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to declare Wisconsin’s legislative maps unconstitutional and institute new maps that avoid the partisan bias that has “infected” Wisconsin’s legislative maps “to the detriment of Wisconsin’s democracy.”

Also as previously reported by the Wisconsin Law Journal, Wisconsin’s highest Court issued three orders in January in the case Clarke v. Wisconsin Elections Commission.

According to officials, the third order 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, Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Wisconsin ranks close to Texas as far as the most gerrymandered state in the nation.


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