MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled Senate is making another attempt Tuesday to pass a new legislative map before the state’s liberal-controlled Supreme Court does so.
It’s the second time in less than a month that lawmakers have tried to set new boundaries for the Senate and Assembly before the court issues its order setting the boundaries. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vetoed the Legislature’s latest attempt, which was based on maps he proposed but made changes to protect Republican incumbents.
This time, Republican lawmakers are talking about passing the Evers maps without changes. When asked last week if he would sign his own cards, Evers replied, “Why not?” But he also expressed skepticism that lawmakers would actually approve them.
There is a lot at stake in the state where the presidential election is at stake. Republicans have had a tight grip on the Legislature since 2011, even as Democrats have won statewide elections, including the 2018 and 2022 gubernatorial races.
Consultants hired by the Wisconsin Supreme Court last week said the maps filed by the Republican Legislature and a conservative law firm were manipulated. They expressed no concerns about any of the four maps drawn by Democrats, including one put forward by Evers, but left the question of constitutionality to the state Supreme Court.
Analysis of the Evers maps show they would likely significantly reduce Republican majorities in the Legislature, which stand at 64-35 in the Assembly and 22-10 in the Senate.
The advisers found that the four remaining maps were virtually the same and that they or the court could tweak them to improve how well each map met certain criteria, including contiguity, political balance and preserving communities of interest.
The state election commission has said the new maps must be in place by March 15 to meet deadlines for candidates running for office in November.
Litigation continues in more than a dozen states over U.S. House and state legislative districts enacted after the 2020 census.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court has also been asked by Democrats to hear a challenge to the state’s congressional district boundaries. The lawsuit argues that the court’s decision to order new legislative plans for the state opens the door to a challenge to the congressional plan. Republicans hold six of the state’s eight congressional seats.