On August 23, 2021, a coalition of community and voting rights organizations and Wisconsin voters filed a federal lawsuit against the members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission challenging the state's 2010-cycle legislative districts as unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, plaintiffs alleged that the results of the 2020 Census showed that population shifts over the last decade had rendered Wisconsin's legislative districts malapportioned in violation of the one person, one vote constitutional requirement and that their 1st Amendment rights to communicate and contribute to legislative candidates were hindered without a valid redistricting plan in place. The plaintiffs requested a judicial declaration that the state's 2010-cycle legislative districts were unconstitutional, an injunction barring the districts from being utilized in future elections, and a court-established schedule that would enable the court to adopt and implement a new, valid redistricting plan in the event the Wisconsin Legislature and Governor were unable to do so in a timely manner.

On September 16, 2021, the court consolidated this action with a similar case challenging Wisconsin’s electoral districts, Hunter v. Bostelmann. 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. 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, 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: Hunter v. Bostelmann

Similar Case: Johnson v. Wisconsin Elections Commission


U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin - No. 3:21-cv-534