Wisconsin Supreme Court Overturns Legislative Maps

In a decision released Friday, the court’s liberal majority said the current maps violate the Wisconsin Constitution’s requirement that districts must be contiguous.

Writing for the majority, Justice Jill Karofsky said the constitution’s contiguity requirements “mean what they say,” a mandate she said was supported by past precedent and common sense.

“Because the current state legislative districts contain separate, detached territory and therefore violate the constitution’s contiguity requirements, we enjoin the Wisconsin Elections Commission from using the current legislative maps in future elections,” Karofsky said.

Democratic voters who filed the redistricting lawsuit also argued the court’s former conservative majority violated the constitution’s separation of powers doctrine when it chose maps that were vetoed by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. Karofsky said the court didn’t need to address that claim after deciding the maps do not satisfy the constitution’s contiguity requirement.

Karofsky also said the court will not order new elections for all 132 state lawmakers, as Democratic plaintiffs requested, calling such a move a “drastic remedy.”

The court did not immediately draw new districts to replace the current ones but said it would begin that process in case the Legislature and governor are not able to agree on new maps.

“Remedial maps must be adopted prior to the 2024 elections,” Karofsky wrote. “We are hopeful that the legislative process will produce new legislative district maps. However, should that fail to happen, this court is prepared to adopt remedial maps.”