The three-judge panel overseeing two redistricting lawsuits today denied motions by GOP lawmakers and Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation to dismiss the cases.
But, the panel indicated it was open to “a limited stay to give the legislative process, and perhaps the state courts, the first opportunity to enact new maps.” In this afternoon’s ruling, the panel added it would also “set a schedule that will allow for the timely resolution of the case should the state process languish or fail.”
GOP lawmakers and the Republican members of Congress had argued the suits were premature and the Legislature and Gov. Tony Evers should first be allowed to try reaching a deal on a map. Even if they failed, their motions to dismiss argued, the issue belonged in the state courts, not before the federal panel.
But the panel noted today the federal courts have intervened in the last three redistricting processes when Wisconsin has had split control of state government. It also pointed out there was no indication the state courts would take a redistricting case “in the face of an impasse between the legislature and the governor.”
“Given this historical pattern, and the urgent requirement of prompt action,” the court decided to move forward with the case.
“The court and the parties must prepare now to resolve the redistricting dispute, should the state fail to establish new maps in time for the 2022 elections,” the panel wrote.
The panel said it would follow the same approach taken following the 2000 census, when a federal panel drew new lines. Then, the panel stayed proceedings “until the appropriate state bodies have attempted–and failed–to do so on their own.”
Today’s order addressed a series of motions that had been filed in the case. Beyond denying the motion to dismiss, the court:
*consolidated the two redistricting suits into one action;
*agreed to allow the plaintiffs in one of the suits to amend their complaint to add a new argument that the voting power of Black voters in Milwaukee has been diluted under current maps;
*granted motions by Evers and the GOP members of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation to intervene in the suit;
*granted a motion allowing the voters who have filed a redistricting suit with the state Supreme Court to intervene in the federal case;
*denied a motion by the voters who filed the state suit to stay the federal case.
The three-judge panel has a Tuesday hearing planned in the suit.
Read the ruling here.