On June 2, 2020, a Wisconsin non-profit and state legislator filed a petition with the Wisconsin Supreme Court proposing several procedural rules to govern future redistricting challenges brought in the State's courts. The petition arose largely in response to the Wisconsin Supreme Court's disposition of a redistricting case in 2002, wherein the State Supreme Court deferred disposition of the case to the federal courts due to the "perceived procedural problem of a lack of rules for such a case" in that Court. In doing so, the State Supreme Court assured that it would not be in the same position in the future and would enter into the rulemaking process to cure those perceived procedural issues. With the 2020 redistricting cycle approaching and with no such rules having been adopted, the petitioners filed a petition requesting that the Court adopt several rules applicable to redistricting challenges, including: the Wisconsin Supreme Court would have original jurisdiction over challenges to congressional and legislative redistricting; such actions would be ripe to bring at any point after the apportionment counts have been delivered to the President and Congress; actions could be stayed until the Legislature enacts an original plan; the Governor, Senate, and Assembly would be granted intervention as of right in these cases; and other modifications to procedures such as the collection and submission of evidence, the court's ability to dispose of the action, and the establishment of timelines and public input mechanisms for the adoption of any remedial redistricting plans. Overall, the purpose of the rules were to ensure that state courts, rather than federal courts, would oversee redistricting litigation in Wisconsin.
On May 14, 2021, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued an opinion rejecting the proposed rules, stating that the procedures proposed would be unlikely to materially aid in the Court's consideration of an as yet undefined future redistricting challenge. It also noted that it remains "well-settled" that redistricting challenges often merit the Court's exercise of its original jurisdiction.
Wisconsin Supreme Court - No. 20-03