The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled on the debate over legislative redistricting maps.  The ruling gave credence to the plan put together by Republican lawmakers in the state over the one backed by the Democratic party.

Election watchers have noted that the move will give an "edge" to the GOP party for the next ten years.  That's because redistricting efforts occur only every decade following the official U.S. Census in an effort maintain equal representation at the Legislature.

The ruling came on April 15 in a 4-3 decision, with a surprising move; according to an article in the Superior Telegram [paywall], swing Justice Brian Hagedorn reversed his earlier opinion, "joining the rest of the court's conservatives to cast the deciding vote".

Welcome to Wisconsin sign in Superior, WI
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

That decision by Hagedorn surprised some.  Back in March, Justice Hagedorn had voted along with the court's liberal Justices to select the legislative redistricting map that was submitted by Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers.  That map was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court due to the "way it applied the federal Voting Rights Act to draw Black-majority districts in Milwaukee".  That ruling to reject by the U.S. Supreme Court sent the entire issue back to the Wisconsin Supreme Court to "consider [it] all over again".

The Wisconsin Supreme Court's ruling to approve the GOP-backed maps came down to a question of time:

"In a four page concurring decision....Hagedorn wrote that given the directive from the U.S. Supreme Court, the state Supreme Court's options for choosing a new map were limited".

Justice Hagedorn wrote:

"We could construct one ourselves or with the assistance of an expert, but time and our institutional limitations make that unrealistic at this juncture.  The remaining option is to choose one of the proposed maps we received as the baseline.  Only one proposal was represented as race-neutral in its construction:  the maps submitted by the [GOP] Legislature."

The ruling is considered the "worst-possible outcome" for Democrats.  They've often considered the 2011 Legislative maps to be conducive to Republicans.  "Even during years when Democratic candidates have performed well statewide, Republicans have maintained large majorities in the Legislature, thanks in part to [that] map..."

Wisconsin road sign
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers offered his opinion on the decision:

"At a time when our democracy is under near-constant attack, the judiciary has abandoned our democracy in our most dire hour.  This is an unconscionable miscarriage of justice for which the people of this state will see no reprieve for another decade."

The newly-approved Legislative redistricting map for Wisconsin will likely remain in place until 2032.

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