Wisconsin Supreme Court Backs Republican-Drawn, ‘Least-Change’ Map

by Benjamin Yount


The Wisconsin Supreme Court has indicated it will not make many changes to the political map drawn by Republicans.

The court ruled 4-3 on Tuesday that it is going with the “least-change approach” to the state’s new political map.

“We have the power to provide a judicial remedy but not to legislate,” Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote for the majority. “We have no authority to act as a ‘super-legislature’ by inserting ourselves into the actual lawmaking function.”

Bradley and the court’s other conservative justices said the new proposed maps are based on the 2011 political map that previously passed a judicial review.

Democrats in Wisconsin have complained that the Republican-drawn map is gerrymandered, and gives Republicans too strong of an advantage in statehouse and Congressional seats.

Bradley wrote political gerrymandering is not banned by any court, and is not enough of a concern to toss out the Republican-drawn districts.

“Claims of political unfairness in the maps present political questions, not legal ones. Such claims have no basis in the constitution or any other law and therefore must be resolved through the political process and not by the judiciary,” Bradley added. “Contriving a partisan gerrymandering claim from the text of the Wisconsin Constitution (aside from overstepping our judicial role) would require us to indulge a fiction – that partisan affiliation is permanent and invariably dictates how a voter casts every ballot.”

Republicans lawmakers said their map reflects the reality that Democratic voters in Wisconsin are largely centered in Milwaukee and Madison.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s liberal justices, in their dissent written by Justice Rebecca Dalet, say the Republican-drawn maps essentially disenfranchise Democratic voters in non-Democratic parts of the state.

“In effect, a least-change approach that starts with the 2011 maps nullifies voters’ electoral decisions since then,” Dalet wrote. “In that way, adopting a least-change approach is an inherently political choice. Try as it might, the majority is fooling no one by proclaiming its decision is neutral and apolitical.”

The court fight is not over. Democratic leaders and advocates have asked the federal court to draw Wisconsin’s new political map instead.

Whoever draws the new map, it is due before voters make their decisions in next spring’s elections.

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Benjamin Yount is a contributor to The Center Square.
Photo “Justice Rebecca Bradley” by Midwest Communications. CC BY-SA 2.0. Background Photo “Wisconsin Supreme Court” by Daderot.






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