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Responses due Friday in GOP redistricting appeal

Republicans have asked the US Supreme Court to overturn the Wisconsin Supreme Court's decision enacting Evers' 'least changes' maps


Responses are due Friday before the U.S. Supreme Court in a Republican appeal of the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling that adopted Gov. Tony Evers’ latest version of a legislative redistricting plan.

The state Supreme Court ruled last week that Evers’ redistricting plan did the best job of following the court’s directions to make the “least changes” to the existing map that the Legislature passed, and former Gov. Scott Walker signed a decade ago. Conservative swing Justice Brian Hagedorn joined the court’s three liberals in the 4-3 decision that chose Evers’ map.

Republican lawmakers and the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, or WILL, appealed the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. They argue Evers’ plan violated the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause because it improperly relies on the federal Voting Rights Act to draw seven majority-Black Assembly districts in Milwaukee.

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett gave parties until Friday at 5 p.m. Eastern to respond to the petition.

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, whose state Department of Justice represented both Evers and the Wisconsin Elections Commission in the state lawsuit, said during an interview on WPR’s Central Time that the DOJ will be involved in the federal appeal.

“I’m confident that those maps are going to remain in place as the appeal process plays out,” Kaul said. “And we will continue to be engaged in that litigation on behalf representing Governor Evers.”

How the Republican appeal proceeds — and whether it proceeds at all — is still an open question at this point. Upcoming deadlines could play a factor in how the court views the case.

On April 15, candidates are scheduled to begin circulating nomination papers to get on the ballot for Wisconsin’s August partisan primary. The Wisconsin Elections Commission had previously said it needed to have new legislative maps in place by March 1 to get ready for that deadline.

“The state Supreme Court wasn’t quite able to do that, but it was very close,” Kaul said. “And there is time now to get everything set. But if the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in here, they would be invalidating the map, and we’d have to go through a new map drawing process. And that … would really require a restart.”

Kaul said he was confident the U.S. Supreme Court would not require new maps before April, saying federal courts typically defer to state court judgments when states set maps.

In addition to the legislative redistricting appeal, Republican U.S. Reps. Bryan Steil, Scott Fitzgerald, Glenn Grothman, Tom Tiffany and Mike Gallagher have also appealed the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s choice of Evers’ congressional redistricting plan. Justice Barrett gave parties until Tuesday to respond in that case.