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REDISTRICTING

Wisconsin Supreme Court rejects Gov. Tony Evers' bid to submit evidence to support his maps

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Supreme Court

The Wisconsin Supreme Court chambers.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday denied Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ motion to provide more evidence to sway the court to choose his 10-year legislative maps, one week after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected them.

The court provided no explanation in its denial. But Evers’ latest rejection came after the Republican-controlled Legislature — which wants the court to choose its maps — asked the court to deny Evers’ Thursday motion. The Legislature argued, in part, that the court never ordered Evers to submit more evidence. The Legislature also said Evers could have submitted his evidence months ago.

While UW-Madison Law School associate professor Robert Yablon would not speculate which maps the court is more likely to choose, he did say Evers’ rejection from the state Supreme Court on Friday is a good sign for the Legislature.

On Thursday, a week after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his maps, Evers argued that his maps are the only ones before the court that follow federal law outlawing discriminatory voting practices.

His motion came after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the state high court did not properly determine whether Evers’ maps, which create a new, seventh Black-majority Assembly district in Milwaukee, comply with the federal Voting Rights Act.

Yablon said the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s most likely next step will be a decision on which maps it chooses. But that doesn’t mean the case will be settled then — the litigants can and very well may appeal the court’s decision, he said.

The Legislature can return to the U.S. Supreme Court if the state court chooses Evers’ maps, Yablon said.

“If the state Supreme Court takes the Legislature’s map, then it’s highly likely that some of the other litigants in the case ... might try to bring a Voting Rights Act challenge to the Legislature’s map,” he added.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s order stipulated that the state high court can choose another map or take additional evidence if it prefers to reconsider Evers’ maps, but “any new analysis, however, must comply with our equal protection jurisprudence.”

Yablon said the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s Friday decision to reject Evers’ motion is a likely sign that the court won’t ask the litigants for more evidence to support their maps.

But the court can still choose Evers’ maps, he said. The court can either dig into the evidence Evers and other litigants already provided to suggest the seventh Black-majority Assembly district in Milwaukee is required under the Voting Rights Act. Otherwise, the court can still choose Evers’ maps and say they did so solely based on Evers’ maps providing the “least change” to the current legislative maps.

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