Last week, Judge Janet Protaciewicz became Justice Protaciewicz when she was sworn in as a member of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, a move that changed the ideological balance of the court from 4-3 conservative to 4-3 liberal. Two lawsuits have already been filed with the state supreme court that challenge the current legislative maps. Democrats are asking the state supreme court to overturn GOP-drawn maps. The court has to formally accept these “direct-action” petitions, which will likely happen soon given the new makeup of the court.
The filing of these lawsuits was anticipated following the addition of Justice Protasiewciz to the court. She emphasized the existing maps, crafted by GOP legislators and implemented by the state supreme court in spring 2022, as a central theme of her campaign, characterizing the maps as “rigged” and unfairly skewed in favor of Republicans.
Democrats argue that the state legislative maps exhibit partisan gerrymandering. As a result, one of the lawsuits calls for all 33 state senators to run according to new districts next year, and the other lawsuit says all state legislators should be compelled to compete in redrawn districts in fall 2024. Both lawsuits, if successful, would mean the half of the state senate who was elected last year and wouldn’t be up for re-election until 2026 would still be forced to run again next fall.
Republican legislative leaders criticized the lawsuits, and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) pledged to protect the existing maps.
“The timing of this lawsuit questions the integrity of the court,” he said. “It’s clear that liberal interest groups are coming to collect from Justice Protasiewicz after her campaign broke judicial code to earn their financial support earlier this year.”
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said the petitions appear to be an “attempt to get the Wisconsin Supreme Court to do what the United States Supreme Court has said judges cannot — decide political issues about redistricting.” Vos is referring to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said federal courts cannot play a role in deciding partisan gerrymandering claims. The 2019 verdict undercut a district court’s decision that had determined the Wisconsin GOP legislators’ drawn boundaries constituted an unconstitutional gerrymander.
Both lawsuits are directed exclusively at the current state legislative maps (Senate and Assembly districts), not the congressional maps, which were accepted by the U.S. Supreme Court at the same time as they rejected the original state legislative maps submitted by Governor Evers. If either of these lawsuits is successful (and in all likelihood if the state supreme court decides to accept both, they will be combined and heard together), and new maps are drawn and ultimately forced upon the legislature, the strong majorities Republicans have in both the Assembly and the Senate would be in jeopardy. This, of course, is exactly what the Democrats want: to eliminate or at least reduce the majorities.
With 2024 being a presidential election year and Wisconsin once again being a targeted state, we can be sure an all-out assault on our state legislature will be waged with massive amounts of money being spent to flip both houses from conservative to liberal majorities. Should that happen while Evers is governor, well, let’s just say it won’t be good for marriage, family, life, religious freedom, or any other freedom.
As we know, elections have consequences. These map challenges are significant; please join us in prayer as these cases and others impacting marriage, family, life, and religious freedom will no doubt soon be filed.