Dem AG Josh Kaul says he’s baffled to see the U.S. Supreme Court toss out Evers’ legislative maps.

“I think it’s pretty shocking to see this ruling from the U.S.  Supreme Court, and I think it’s frankly consistent with the increasing activism we’ve seen from the conservative super majority on the U.S. Supreme Court,” he said during a virtual luncheon.

He noted the high court previously in response to other map challenges said it was too late in the process to require courts or Legislatures to redraw them, “but apparently they’ve reached a different conclusion here in Wisconsin.”

The Dem AG also said there will likely be “a flurry of court action coming out of this regarding what the next round of maps will look like.”

He added it seems the high court wants the Wisconsin Supreme Court to dive further into the facts of the underlying decisions that outlined the new maps. But that’s exactly why this case is not well suited to either the federal or state high court, he said.

“Because, you know, if you’re going to really dig into those facts; you need to have hearings, you need to have witnesses,” he said. “And that usually happens in front of a trial court.”

Kaul also said the decision has created “massive uncertainty” for what happens next, but he added there will likely be litigation following any future decisions and the federal court may weigh in again.

Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty President and General Counsel Rick Esenberg hailed the ruling, saying it affirmed that Evers’ maps racially gerrymandered districts in the Milwaukee area.

WILL joined GOP lawmakers in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the legislative lines.

“This is a critical victory to ensure that our government not make decisions on the basis of race,” Esenberg said.

Evers, who responded “Hell yes” when the state Supreme Court approved his legislative map, said Wednesday he’s prepared to go back to the Wisconsin justices and again argue his proposal is better than the lines in place now.

“I will not stop fighting for better, fairer maps for the people of this state who shouldn’t have to wait any longer than they already have to ensure their voices are heard,” Evers said.

Kaul also during the virtual luncheon said he wants to focus his drug abuse investigations on higher level traffickers and distributors while holding big pharmaceutical companies accountable.

Rather than going after drug users like many in law enforcement have done in the past, Kaul said he wants to focus investigation efforts on those involved in the drug trade who are enabling users by making drugs more available. He also said many of the illegal drugs found in Wisconsin come from out of state, so targeting traffickers and distributors would significantly disrupt the flow of heroin, fentanyl and meth.

“There’s the occasional meth lab in Wisconsin, but generally the meth is coming from outside the state,” he said. “And so working to dismantle those trafficking networks that are bringing drugs across state lines, often across national borders, is critical to slowing the supply of those drugs.”

Kaul added he wants to continue to pressure pharmaceutical companies because many opioid addicts became addicted through pharmaceuticals such as Oxycontin. But other issues are also driving the opioid epidemic.

“I think the things we’ve seen like social isolation and health challenges have also led to increased substance use disorder,” he said. “That’s, I think, part of what’s going on, but the other part is fentanyl is driving a huge increase in overdose deaths because it’s so potent and so dangerous.”

Kaul said he wants to increase funding for police across the state to help police fight back against rising crime.

“I don’t support defunding the police,” he said.

He said money to support his proposed Safer Wisconsin plan to increase funding for community policing, diversion and investigative efforts could come from federal pandemic relief money, big pharma settlements or the state’s projected $3.8 billion budget surplus. He also said additional funding for law enforcement and the Department of Justice would be a significant boost to what he called the mainstay of public safety.

“Law enforcement is the backbone of our public safety efforts, and we need to provide more funding to law enforcement, not less,” he said.

When it came to his possible opponents in this year’s AG election, Kaul said it seems to be a competition between two candidates who want to show how far they are willing to go to the extreme right.

He said he believes Wisconsinites want an AG who is going to be independent and work to protect public safety.

“But they’ve both been approaching it in a way that suggests a much more politicized role where they’re pursuing cases based on a political agenda,” Kaul said.

He used examples such as GOP candidates stating they would use DOJ resources to investigate abortion-related crimes if Roe v. Wade were overturned. Kaul also pointed to candidates saying they would investigate “all these conspiracy theories about voter fraud.”

“And again, if there is legitimate evidence of fraud, it should be investigated,” he said. “But we shouldn’t be diverting resources from investigations and prosecutions of drug traffickers and people who commit violent crimes to serve a political agenda like we’re seeing with the (former Justice Michael) Gableman investigation.”

Republican AG candidate Adam Jarchow in an email to blasted Kaul for what he called a failure to support police and keep violent crime under control.

“Violent crime is on the rise in Wisconsin and our law enforcement officers are desperate for an ally in the Attorney General’s office,” he said. “But Josh Kaul has failed to support crime fighters even in his own department, and worse, he has fanned the flames with harmful rhetoric, like in Kenosha, proving why he needs to go.”

Fond du Lac County DA and AG candidate Eric Toney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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