U.S. Supreme Court Will Set Wisconsin Voting District Lines

On April 11, 2012, a panel of three federal judges accepted the Democrats’ revisions to two Milwaukee state assembly districts. Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is appealing the panel’s decision to the United States Supreme Court, which will have the final say in where Wisconsin’s voting district lines lie.

Regarding the appeal, Van Hollen stated: “The redistricting laws were upheld in virtually all respects. However, we have appealed the one portion of the district court’s decision where the State did not prevail. While some view the adverse portion of the district court decision as being inconsequential, I disagree. Any time a federal court rejects a state redistricting statute, and decides to redraw or adjust a legislative district, it is a serious matter and appropriate for appellate review.”

Though the Supreme Court is generally allowed to decide which cases it takes, it is required to accept all voting rights challenges. The court typically issues short orders without holding hearings on voting rights matters, so a swift decision is possible. Assuming the court issues its decision in time, the new lines will be used for the first time in the November general election.

Van Hollen’s appeal opens the door to a cross-appeal from the plaintiffs, whose claims not related to assembly districts 8 and 9 were dismissed by the lower court. If the plaintiffs’ arguments are persuasive to the Supreme Court, it can go back and redraw other district lines.

The cases being jointly appealed are Baldus, et al. v. Brennan, et al., Case No. 11 CV 562, and Voces de la Frontera, Inc. et al. v. Brennan, Case No. 11 CV 1011.