MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers in a brief filed today by Attorney General Josh Kaul asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to declare Wisconsin’s legislative maps unconstitutional and institute new maps that avoid the partisan bias that has “infected” Wisconsin’s legislative maps “to the detriment of Wisconsin’s democracy.”
“The entire point of redistricting is to serve democracy: it should empower voters, not the opposite,” said Gov. Evers in the brief filed today. “After all, the maps govern the essential exercise of democracy, enshrined in our Constitution’s directive that the government derives its ‘just powers from the consent of the governed.’”
The governor’s brief argues that the Wisconsin Supreme Court should declare the current state legislative maps unconstitutional for violating the constitution’s separation of powers by adopting the exact legislative maps vetoed by Gov. Evers.
“The Legislature’s proposed maps perpetuated and likely worsened the existing partisan bias; they were vetoed by the Governor. As part of his veto message, the Governor explained that the maps were ‘clearly designed to benefit one political party over another and would preserve undemocratic majorities,’” the brief states. “[…] The maps adopted were the very maps that the Governor had vetoed as part of the legislative process and under his exclusive constitutional authority. The Legislature did not override that veto.”
Further, the governor argues that new legislative maps must be implemented and must avoid “the partisan bias that has infected the legislative maps to the detriment of Wisconsin’s democracy,” and that the court must “guard against partisan bias.”
“As courts in Wisconsin have already established, ‘[j]udges should not select a plan that seeks partisan advantage–that seeks to change the ground rules so that one party can do better than it would do under a plan drawn up by persons having no political agenda.’ The Court ought not adopt a plan that ‘would inure to the political benefit of any one person or party.’”
The governor’s brief also argues that the court should likewise declare Wisconsin’s current maps unconstitutional for failing to meet the constitutional requirements for ‘contiguity,’ which requires that legislative districts consist of territory that is physically connected.
A copy of the governor’s brief is available here. Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for November 21, 2023.