WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Sept. 24, the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature filed a petition in the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to intervene in and stop an ongoing federal lawsuit about the state’s redistricting process. The petition argues that the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, which denied motions to dismiss and stay (meaning pause) the case last week, lacks jurisdiction over the case and is allowing a “premature” lawsuit without proper standing to continue forward. The petition originates from Hunter v. Bostelmann, which was consolidated with a similar case, Black Leaders Organizing for Communities v. Spindell, last week. The Wisconsin Legislature was granted intervention in the consolidated case.
The petitioners assert that the redistricting process should remain entirely in the state’s domain and ask the Supreme Court to decide if the federal district court “clearly and indisputably transgress[es] its…judicial power, as well as principles of federalism and comity, when it refuses to defer consideration of a redistricting dispute to the legislature and state supreme court.” Of particular concern to the petitioners is that the federal district court refused to pause its proceedings while a redistricting challenge is litigated in the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which currently has a conservative majority. In asking for this extraordinary relief from the nation’s high court, the petitioners write that the “absence of jurisdiction is indisputable, principles of federalism are at their zenith, and there is no other adequate means to stop federal courts, including the court below, from exceeding their jurisdiction in an area as sensitive as reapportionment.” This is the first time a petition of this kind has been filed in the U.S. Supreme Court during the course of a lawsuit seeking the intervention of federal courts in the redistricting process.