Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin on Monday took initial steps to intervene in a Democratic-led lawsuit over the state’s voting maps, teeing up a potential partisan court clash over the once-per-decade redistricting process.
The GOP plan, if approved by a legislative panel, would authorize the state’s top two Republican lawmakers to hire lawyers at taxpayer expense and seek permission to intervene in the federal suit, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The move comes in response to a lawsuit filed Friday by six Democratic voters who allege that Wisconsin’s current map is malapportioned, meaning it violates the constitutional principle of “one-person, one-vote.”
Wisconsin has also been subject to some of the most extreme partisan gerrymandering in the country, according to the Princeton Gerrymandering Project.
The decennial process of redistricting kicked off last week with the release of Census Bureau data, which could set off an unprecedented scramble to manipulate voting maps for partisan gain.
In their complaint, the Democratic challengers told a federal court that Wisconsin’s GOP-held legislature and Democratic governor are unlikely to agree on how to draw new legislative and congressional districts in time for the 2022 election. The group asked that the court oversee the redrawing of the state’s voting map if a consensus does not emerge.
“Given the high likelihood of impasse, this Court should prepare itself to intervene to protect the constitutional rights of Plaintiffs and voters across this State. While there is still time for the Legislature and Governor to enact new plans, this Court should assume jurisdiction now and establish a schedule that will enable the Court to adopt its own plans in the near-certain event that the political branches fail timely to do so,” the Friday complaint reads.
The litigants are represented by top Democratic attorney Marc Elias of the firm Perkins Coie.