(WPR) -- The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that federal courts don't have the power to decide cases related to partisan gerrymandering, effectively ending a Wisconsin lawsuit against legislative maps drawn by Republicans in 2011.
The court ruled 5-4 that "partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts," in an opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts.
The Supreme Court rejected the Wisconsin case in June 2018, but the door was left open to future gerrymandering rulings that could affect the state’s legislative maps.
Sachin Chheda, director of Fair Elections Project, which helped organize Wisconsin’s lawsuit, said he was "disappointed" by the high court’s ruling.
"We agree with the majority that now this issue is most likely to be addressed in the legislative process, as flawed as that solution is, especially for states like Wisconsin that don't have citizen initiative,"Chheda said in a prepared statement.
Democratic legislative leaders in Wisconsin also decried the decision.
"Republican efforts to suppress voters, restrict voting rights and rig elections through gerrymandered maps have undermined the will of the people,"said Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse.
"Democrats will continue to champion non-partisan redistricting reform to empower citizens and restore fairness to our election process."
Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, said Wisconsin’s maps have "have created a complete lack of accountability for Republican legislators."
"The numbers confirm that Republicans have built an impenetrable electoral wall around themselves with no consequences for their actions,"Hintz said.
Gov. Tony Evers proposed a nonpartisan redistricting commission for Wisconsin in his budget. GOP lawmakers who control the state Legislature removed it from the spending plan.
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Republican leaders lauded the decision Thursday morning, including former Gov. Scott Walker, who serves as the national finance chairman for the National Republican Redistricting Trust, a conservative advocacy group on the issue.
"Today’s opinion has finally pulled the federal courts out of the business of picking winners and losers in redistricting cases,"Walker said in a prepared statement.
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