On August 13, 2021, a group of Wisconsin voters filed a federal lawsuit against the members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission challenging the state's 2010-cycle congressional and legislative plans as unconstitutional. The plaintiffs alleged that based on the 2020 Census data, the prior decade's districts had become malapportioned in violation of the one person, one vote constitutional requirement under Article I, § 2 and the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. They also alleged that the state legislature was unlikely to enact properly apportioned redistricting plans in time for the 2022 elections and the failure to do so would result in burdens upon the plaintiffs' freedom of association in violation of the 1st Amendment. The plaintiffs sought a judicial declaration that the 2010-cycle redistricting plans were unconstitutional; an injunction barring the defendants from conducting any elections using those districts; a court ordered schedule for enacting new, properly apportioned plans; and, in the event the political branches failed to do so, for the court to enact properly apportioned redistricting plans on its own.

On August 27, 2021, the district court granted the Wisconsin Legislature's motion to intervene in the case as defendants. On September 16, 2021, the court consolidated this action with a similar case challenging Wisconsin’s electoral districts, Black Leaders Organizing for Communities v. Spindell. On October 6, 2021, the case was stayed in light of the redistricting challenge petition accepted by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Johnson v. Wisconsin Elections Commission. On November 18, 2021, the court issued an order extending the stay of this case until January 4, 2022, and on December 17, 2021, the court further extended the stay until January 28, 2022.

On March 3, 2022, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued an opinion and order in Johnson v. Wisconsin Elections Commission adopting the congressional and legislative plans proposed by the Governor as final and directing the state to implement them for use in future elections.

On March 7, 2022, the Wisconsin Legislature filed an emergency application for a stay of the Wisconsin Supreme Court's ruling adopting the legislative plans pending a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court. On March 9, 2022, the Congressmen Intervenors filed a similar application with the U.S. Supreme Court in regards to the adopted congressional plan.

On March 23, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order denying the Congressmen Intervenors' request for a stay on the adopted congressional plan. That same day, the Court issued an opinion reversing and remanding the Wisconsin Supreme Court's adoption of the Governor's legislative redistricting plans on the grounds it erroneously applied the Court's precedents as to the guarantees of the Equal Protection Clause and the Voting Rights Act. Specifically, the Court found the Wisconsin Supreme Court committed legal error by concluding the Governor's intentional addition of a seventh majority-black legislative district satisfied strict scrutiny review under the Equal Protection Clause, reiterating its holding in Cooper v. Harris that a State must show it had a "strong basis in evidence" for concluding that their race-based redistricting decisions were necessary for compliance with § 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The Court remanded the case back to the Wisconsin Supreme Court for further proceedings consistent with its opinion and equal protection jurisprudence.

On May 5, 2022, the federal district court dismissed the case in light of the Wisconsin Supreme Court's decision in Johnson v. Wisconsin Elections Commission.

Related Case: Black Leaders Organizing for Communities v. Spindell

Similar Case: Johnson v. Wisconsin Elections Commission


U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin - No. 3:21-cv-00512