Supreme Court to hear WI redistricting case

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on day to hear a case that found Wisconsin Republicans overreached in 2011 by drawing legislative districts that were so favorable to them that they violated the U.S. Constitution.

In a related ruling Monday, the high court handed Republicans a victory by blocking a lower court ruling that the state develop new maps by Nov. 1. Democrats and those aligned with them took that order as a sign they could lose the case.

The case is being watched nationally because it will likely resolve whether maps of lawmakers’ districts can be so one-sided that they violate the constitutional rights of voters. The question has eluded courts for decades.

The court’s ultimate ruling could shift how legislative and congressional lines are drawn —  and thus who controls statehouses and Congress.

“This is a blockbuster. This could become the most important election law case in years if not decades,” said Joshua Douglas, a University of Kentucky College of Law professor and co-editor of the book “Election Law Stories.”

A panel of federal judges ruled 2-1 last fall that Wisconsin lawmakers had drawn maps for the state Assembly that were so heavily skewed for Republicans as to violate the voting rights of Democrats. The judges ordered the state to develop new maps by November.

GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel appealed to the Supreme Court in February. In a one-sentence order Monday, the high court said it would hold arguments on the case.

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