Attorneys for GOP lawmakers and conservative voters demanded the state Supreme Court reject two consultants’ report that recommended ignoring their proposed maps for legislative districts and only considering plans submitted by Dems.

And Dem parties in the redistricting suit urged the justices to follow the consultants’ recommendation to reject the GOP and conservative maps as political gerrymanders while touting what they say is the superior performances of their own proposals.

The moves come with the expectation the court could pick a new map by March 15, the date the Elections Commission has asked for any remedial lines to be in place, unless GOP lawmakers and the guv can reach agreement on a plan. 

The court set a deadline of yesterday for the parties to respond to a report from redistricting experts Bernard Grofman and Jonathan Cervas that found the proposals from GOP lawmakers and the voters represented by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty are partisan gerrymanders. The report also found the four Dem proposals largely met the criteria laid out by the state Supreme Court, including being politically neutral.

Along with their responses to the report, the GOP lawmakers and the conservative voters demand the court strike the report.

The filing argues the “report raises questions about the fundamental fairness of these proceedings, ex parte communications, disregard for parties’ principal arguments and their experts, reliance on extra-record evidence, conclusions about ‘gerrymandering,’ and more.” 

The motion includes similar objections the GOP and conservative attorneys have raised about the court’s proceedings, including the liberal majority’s refusal to order discovery or to allow a trial to explore various issues related to the suit.

In their response to the report, GOP attorneys argued it added to the “procedural irregularities” in the case and suggested it provided more fodder to appeal a decision by the state Supreme Court on due process grounds.

Among other things, it noted a line in the report in which Grofman and Cervas agreed to “keep any communications with members of the Court confidential and never disclose the contents of any discussion with members of the Court unless and until given permission by the Court.” Republicans argued that suggested there were inappropriate communications with justices and demanded that any contact be disclosed.

“If the Court wished to invite further appellate review, there would be no better way than to stay the course, deny the parties discovery and a hearing, adopt the Consultants’ report, and move millions of Wisconsinites because of ‘social science’ and supposed ‘gerrymandering’ on the eve of 2024 election deadlines,” the GOP attorneys wrote.

Dem parties, meanwhile, touted their maps while knocking the GOP proposals for failing to adhere to the court’s directive that the remedial maps not advantage one political party over the other.

Senate Dems, for example, wrote in their response that the GOP and conservative maps were drawn to ensure Republicans had majorities in both houses of the Legislature despite the court’s call for “political neutrality.”

“That the Legislature’s and Johnson maps fail the Court’s political neutrality criterion is unsurprising,” Senate Dems wrote. “Neither party believed this was a legitimate criterion for the Court’s consideration nor appears to have made a meaningful attempt to put forth a map that does not greatly favor Republicans.”

Gov. Tony Evers, meanwhile, argued the GOP and conservative maps fell short on other benchmarks besides political neutrality, such as the number of times they failed to adhere to county, precinct, town or ward lines. The GOP lawmakers’ map, according to the Department of Justice brief, are bounded by county, town or ward lines 54% of the time, while the WILL maps are compliant 81% of the time.

By contrast, the guv’s Assembly map is 98% compliant, according to the brief.

“As the Governor’s proposals and multiple others demonstrate, it is perfectly possible to draw maps in Wisconsin that both promote democracy and adhere to mandatory and traditional redistricting principles,” DOJ argued on Evers’ behalf.

Law Forward, the firm that represented the Dem voters who successfully challenged the maps, argued that their proposed lines and the ones from the guv are the maps that make it most likely the candidate who wins a statewide race will carry a majority of the legislative seats.

“Majority rule, of course, is the foundation of American government,” Law Forward wrote.

See the filings in the case.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email