A federal panel today ordered lawmakers and Gov. Scott Walker to draw up and approve new Assembly district maps by Nov. 1.
But the state DOJ says it expects to appeal the decision.
The three judge-panel, which in November ruled the current maps were an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, ignored the DOJ’s request to hold off ordering new maps until the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in on the issue.
Waiting on the high court’s input might be the right approach “in a perfect world,” the panel wrote, but it’s not clear the court would decide on the issue in time to have them in place for 2018. The new maps, the judges added, would also be contingent upon the court agreeing with their November decision. If the justices disagree with them, the panel wrote, the state can “retain easily the present map.”
“The people of Wisconsin already have endured several elections under an unconstitutional reapportionment scheme,” the panel wrote. “If they are to be spared another such event, a new map must be drawn in time for the preparatory steps leading up to the election, such as candidate petition circulations in mid-spring 2018.”
DOJ spokesman Johnny Koremenos said the agency is reviewing the order but “we expect to file an appeal with the Supreme Court and seek prompt reversal of this decision.”
Walker spokesman Tom Evenson added the administration believes the maps are constitutional.
Dems, meanwhile, hailed the ruling.
“The court’s decision to require new maps is good news for anyone who supports free, fair and competitive elections,” said Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay. “The responsibility now falls on the Governor and Republican leaders to comply with the court’s order.”
Sachin Chheda, the director of the Fair Elections Project, which helped organize the lawsuit, said it’s “time to move ahead and draw new maps.”
“This is a victory for democracy and we look forward to a process to draw these maps that engage the community and invite public participation,” Chheda said.
In November, the panel had split 2-1 on its decision, with Judges Kenneth Ripple and Barbara Crabb ruling against the maps and Judge William Griesbach dissenting.
All three of them joined in today’s order.
See the order
This post has been updated with additional details.