CASE SUMMARY

On August 23, 2021, a Wisconsin non-profit group and a group of Wisconsin voters filed a petition with the Wisconsin Supreme Court, seeking to invoke the Court's original jurisdiction to challenge the state's current congressional and legislative plans as violating the state constitution. Specifically, plaintiffs allege that based on the 2020 Census results, population shifts over the last decade have rendered Wisconsin's congressional and legislative redistricting plans malapportioned in violation of Article IV of the Wisconsin Constitution and the one person, one vote constitutional requirement interpreted therefrom. The plaintiffs also allege that their action should be controlling with respect to the state's redistricting process instead of a similar challenge that was filed and remains pending in federal court, Hunter v. Bostelmann, because congressional and legislative redistricting are primarily state functions, not federal ones. To that end, the plaintiffs are requesting that the Court issue a judicial declaration that the current redistricting plans are unconstitutional, an injunction barring them from being implemented or used in any future elections, and a stay on the case until the Legislature has adopted a new redistricting plan. Then, if a challenge is made to the new maps, for the Court to rule on the constitutionality of such plan. They are also requesting that the Court adopt new maps that meet all of the state's traditional redistricting criteria in the event the Legislature and Governor fail to do so, and in doing so the court should not take into account the likely political impact of the plans.

On November 30, 2021, the court issued an opinion detailing how they would implement a judicial remedy upon the expected impasse between the Governor and the Legislature, given that both parties agree that the current congressional and legislative maps have now become unconstitutionally malapportioned. The court held that redistricting disputes such as this may only be judicially resolved to the extent necessary to remedy the violation of a "justiciable and cognizable" right protected under the U.S. Constitution, the Voting Rights Act, or Article IV, Sections 3, 4, or 5 of the Wisconsin Constitution. For that reason, the court explained that it would confine its remedy to making the minimum changes necessary in order to conform the existing plans to the constitutional and statutory requirements, including equal population. Similarly, the court also ruled that it would not consider the partisan composition of districts when devising their remedy because their political makeup doesn't implicate any justiciable or cognizable right.

Oral arguments in the case will be held on January 19, 2022.

Related Case: Hunter v. Bostelmann

CASE LIBRARY

Wisconsin Supreme Court - No. 2021AP001450