A federal court will delay the date of the trial in Wisconsin’s partisan redistricting case until the U.S. Supreme Court decides two similar cases this summer, handing a partial legal victory to the Republican-controlled Legislature.
The decision by the court to push the trial back from April to at least July, after the issuance of a decision in the two similar cases, is meant to prevent Wisconsin’s case from being tried twice.
It is still possible Wisconsin’s political maps would be redrawn before the 2020 general election if the U.S. Supreme Court were to rule in favor of the plaintiffs — several Democratic voters across the state along with the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee.
The case was remanded back to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin after the U.S. Supreme Court in June found the plaintiffs in the case lacked standing.
The court is allowing discovery in the case to proceed on its normal schedule, meaning it’s still possible the district court could provide a ruling in the case in time to allow the decision to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court for potential resolution before the end of 2020.
That scenario could occur if the high court rules that gerrymandering cases are fair game for the court to consider. If, however, the Supreme Court rules it cannot take up partisan gerrymandering cases, Wisconsin’s case is unlikely to see further action.
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The decision Wednesday by the panel of federal judges in Wisconsin came after a request from the Republican-controlled Assembly, which intervened in the case in the fall. Attorneys for the Assembly asked the court to pause the proceedings in the high-profile case pending U.S. Supreme Court action on two similar cases from Maryland and North Carolina.
The attorneys argued the two cases the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear on appeal present similar issues as Wisconsin’s Gill vs. Whitford case and that holding a trial would be an unnecessary waste of resources until those cases are resolved.
Democrats, however, strongly opposed moving the date of the trial, arguing they could lose their chance to redraw the state’s political boundaries.
If the maps aren’t redrawn before 2020, they will be redrawn after the 2020 U.S. Census in time for the 2022 election.
Editor's note: This story was updated to reflect that the plaintiffs in Gill v. Whitford lacked standing.