Case Summary

On August 2, 2023, a group of Wisconsin voters filed a petition for an original action with the Wisconsin Supreme Court seeking to sue the Wisconsin Elections Commission, its members, and various state legislators and challenge the state’s legislative redistricting plans, which followed a “least changes” approach from the prior decade’s plans and were ordered into use by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in Johnson v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, as violating the Wisconsin Constitution. Petitioners alleged the plans were partisan gerrymanders that violated the state constitution’s equal protection, free speech, free association, and free government provisions, failed to comply with the constitution’s contiguity requirement, and that the Court violated separation of powers principles by ordering them into use over the Governor’s veto which the legislature never overrode. They sought a judicial declaration that the plans were unconstitutionally partisan gerrymandered and noncontiguous, an injunction barring the plans from use in future elections, and for the Court to require non-partisan gerrymandered remedial plans be enacted. They also requested the Court invalidate the terms of state Senators who were elected using unconstitutional districts and order a special election be held in 2024.

  • On October 6, 2023, the Court granted the petition in part, agreeing to hear the petitioners’ contiguity and separation of powers claims but declining to hear their partisan gerrymandering claims.
  • Oral arguments were held before the Court on November 21, 2023.
  • On December 22, 2023, the Court struck down the legislative plans as violating the Wisconsin Constitution’s contiguity requirement, overturning its own prior decisions allowing districts to include detached portions of a political subdivision’s territory. The Court enjoined the plans from further use and ordered the State to enact remedial plans in time for use in the 2024 elections. If the State failed to remedy the contiguity issues, the Court stated it would adopt remedial plans and laid out the criteria it would use, including considerations of partisan impact. Finally, the Court denied the request to shorten state Senators’ terms and order a special election in 2024.
  • On December 28, 2023, several intervenor-Defendants filed a motion for reconsideration with the Court and requested a stay pending decision on the motion, which was denied on January 11, 2024.

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The Supreme Court of Wisconsin - 2023AP001399