A federal court should continue moving forward with a possible redistricting trial as a backup in case state lawmakers and the Wisconsin Supreme Court fail to put a map in place in time to prepare for the 2022 elections, according to new filings.
Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers and GOP members of the state’s congressional delegation want the case dismissed altogether.
The voters and groups who originally asked a federal court to draw new maps argued the three-judge panel shouldn’t wait to see if the GOP-controlled Legislature can reach a deal with Dem Gov. Tony Evers on the lines or if the state justices can act promptly if they fail.
For one thing, the voters and groups argued, there’s no guarantee the Legislature or the state courts will have new maps in place by March 1, when the state Elections Commission says it needs new lines to prepare for candidates circulating nomination papers starting April 15.
There are also federal law claims unique to the lawsuit before the three-judge panel, particularly with the state’s congressional lines.
To back up their contention the court should keep moving forward, plaintiffs including Black Leaders Organizing for Communities and Voces de la Frontera cited a WisPolitics.com interview with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos in which the Rochester Republican declined to commit to the Legislature taking up new maps before the end of the fall floor period next month. They argued waiting until January to approve maps would make it impossible for the guv to consider them and a lawsuit before the state Supreme Court to be fully adjudicated before the three-judge panel planned to begin its trial Jan. 24.
They argued the three-judge panel should set a March 1 deadline for the Legislature, Evers and state Supreme Court to have new districts in place.
Friday’s filings come after the three-judge panel asked the parties to weigh in about how it should proceed after the GOP voters who filed the lawsuit with the state Supreme Court asked for the federal proceedings to be put on hold. The GOP-controlled Legislature, meanwhile, has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out the case while state proceedings continue.
GOP lawmakers argued the federal court has no jurisdiction, for example, to have a status conference to “check in on the Wisconsin Supreme Court proceedings.”
“Speculation about what might not occur with ongoing legislative and judicial proceedings is not evidence that the state will fail to timely redistrict,” they argued.
The five GOP members of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation argued in their brief that parallel proceedings in the state Supreme Court and before the three-judge panel “could result in overlapping — and perhaps competing — discovery obligations” that warrant the case being dismissed. They also argued the state Supreme Court has made it “unambiguously clear” the justices plan to act in a timely manner.
GOP lawmakers indicated in one of Friday’s filings they don’t think new maps are needed until mid- to late-April.
As part of the filings, the parties weighed in on a possible timeline for discovery ahead of a trial, if the three-judge panel decided to proceed.
The voters and groups proposed a timeline that would still meet the federal court’s original plan for a trial the last week of January. The court had put that plan in motion before the state Supreme Court agreed to take the redistricting suit.
GOP lawmakers, meanwhile, argued in that filing that having a map in place by mid- to late-April would still allow enough time for candidates to circulate nomination papers and qualify for the ballot. They argued the state Supreme Court would be able to move any pre-election deadlines as necessary as part of that suit.
GOP lawmakers, the five Republican members of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation and the Republican voters who filed the suit now before the state Supreme Court proposed a timeline that would result in a trial the last week of March.
See the filings urging the court to proceed:
See the Legislature’s filing urging the court to dismiss the case altogether:
See the GOP House filing:
See the proposed schedules: