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Wisconsin’s GOP-led Legislature makes second attempt to draw maps before Supreme Court does

Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled Senate is taking another shot Tuesday at passing a new legislative map before the liberal-controlled state Supreme Court does it.

It marks the second time in less than a month that the Legislature has tried to enact new Senate and Assembly boundaries before the court issues its order drawing the lines. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vetoed the Legislature’s last attempt, which was based on maps he proposed but that made changes to protect Republican incumbents.

This time, GOP legislative leaders are talking about passing the Evers maps without any changes. When asked last week if he would sign his own maps, Evers responded “Why not?” while also voicing skepticism that the Legislature would actually approve them.

WISCONSIN REPUBLICANS WOULD MAINTAIN MAJORITY IN PROPOSED LEGISLATIVE MAPS, BUT WITH REDUCED DOMINANCE

The political stakes are huge in the presidential battleground state, where Republicans have had a firm grip on the Legislature since 2011 even as Democrats have won statewide elections, including for governor in 2018 and 2022.

Consultants hired by the Wisconsin Supreme Court last week said that maps submitted by the Republican Legislature and a conservative law firm were gerrymandered. They did not raise concerns about any of the four Democratic-drawn maps, including one submitted by Evers, but left the question of constitutionality to the state Supreme Court.

Analyses of the Evers maps show they would likely greatly reduce Republican majorities in the Legislature, which stand at 64-35 in the Assembly and 22-10 in the Senate.

WISCONSIN CONSULTANTS LABEL GOP’S REDISTRICTING MAP PROPOSALS AS GERRYMANDERS

The consultants determined that the four remaining maps were virtually the same, and that they or the court could tweak them to bolster how well each map meets certain criteria, including contiguity, political balance and the preservation of communities of interest.

The state elections commission has said the new maps must be in place by March 15 in order to meet deadlines for candidates running for office in November.

Litigation continues in more than a dozen states over U.S. House and state legislative districts that were enacted after the 2020 census.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court also has been asked by Democrats to take up a challenge to the state’s congressional district lines. The lawsuit argues that the court’s decision to order new state legislative maps opens the door to challenging the congressional map. Republicans hold six of the state’s eight congressional seats.

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