WASHINGTON, D.C. — This week, two more emergency applications were filed in the U.S. Supreme Court. Wisconsin’s maps are now before the Court after Republicans filed applications seeking emergency relief. This development comes after the Wisconsin Supreme Court adopted new legislative and congressional maps last week. The state court had taken over the redistricting process after a political deadlock over redistricting occurred between the Republican-controlled Legislature and Democratic governor.
The first application, filed on Monday by the Wisconsin Legislature and the plaintiffs in the state court impasse case, argues that the state Supreme Court adopted legislative maps that are racial gerrymanders that violate the U.S. Constitution. The adopted maps create seven majority-Black Assembly districts and two majority-Black state Senate districts, which the Legislature argues are not required under the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The application specifically criticizes the state Supreme Court’s explanation regarding the need for an additional majority-Black state Assembly district, which stated that “we cannot say for certain on this record that seven majority-Black assembly districts are required by the” VRA, but “based on our assessment of the totality of the circumstances and given the discretion afforded states implementing the” VRA they believed seven districts were appropriate. The application asks the U.S. Supreme Court to block the adopted maps and order the use of the maps previously passed by the Legislature and vetoed by the governor. Responses to this application are due by 5 p.m. ET on Friday, March 11.
The second application for emergency relief was filed on Wednesday by five Republican congressmen from Wisconsin. Their application focuses on the newly adopted congressional map and asks the Court to block its use and allow parties to resubmit map proposals to the Wisconsin Supreme Court or order the use of the map previously passed by the Legislature and vetoed by the governor. The Republican congressmen argue that the state Supreme Court violated the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution by not explicitly stating which standards it would use to evaluate map proposals. According to the congressmen, the court “swapped its holistic least-change approach, which…was to take account of multiple factors, for a core-retention-maximization-only standard that looked exclusively to the core-retention scores.” They argue this “bait and switch” denied them “basic tenets of procedural fairness.” The application also alleges that there is a two-person deviation between congressional districts, which they interpret violates the constitutional principle of one person, one vote. Responses to this application are due by 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 15.