The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with Wisconsin Republicans challenging “redistricting” efforts from Democrats in the state, throwing out legislative maps drawn by Democratic Governor Tony Evers and adopted by its highest court, The Washington Post reported.
The Supreme Court granted a Republican request to block new maps that “increased the number of state Assembly districts with a majority of Black voters from six to seven,” Reuters reported. “The court sent that case back to the Wisconsin Supreme Court and ordered it to adopt new maps laying out the various districts.”
The Wisconsin Supreme Court “committed legal error in its application of decisions of this Court regarding the relationship between the constitutional guarantee of equal protection and the VRA (Voting Right Act),” the opinion said, adding that the state court “believed that it had to conclude only that the VRA might support race-based districting — not that the statute required it. … Our precedent instructs otherwise.”
“The question that our VRA precedents ask and the court failed to answer is whether a race-neutral alternative that did not add a seventh majority-black district would deny black voters equal political opportunity,” the majority wrote.
The Wisconsin court “is free to take additional evidence if it prefers to reconsider the Governor’s maps rather than choose from among the other submissions. Any new analysis, however, must comply with our equal protection jurisprudence,” it added.
Vox reported that the high court used a process known as “summary reversal” to toss the maps, “meaning that the Court tossed out the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision completely without receiving full briefing or hearing oral arguments.”
Liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented from the majority.
“In an emergency posture, the Court summarily overturns a Wisconsin Supreme Court decision resolving a conflict over the State’s redistricting, a decision rendered after a 5-month process involving all interested stakeholders,” Sotomayor wrote, according to The Hill. “Despite the fact that summary reversals are generally reserved for decisions in violation of settled law, the Court today faults the State Supreme Court for its failure to comply with an obligation that, under existing precedent, is hazy at best.”
In a second unsigned ruling, “the court rejected a challenge from five Republican congressmen who objected to the congressional map adopted by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which had also been prepared by Mr. Evers, a Democrat,” The New York Times reported.
Democrats and their allies in the media fumed over the news, claiming it was an attack on “voting rights.”
“Today’s Supreme Court action in Wisconsin is simply wrong and is grounded in an unprecedented process and a failure to adhere to precedent,” former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder posted to social media. “The Court continues to put its legitimacy at risk.”
Today’s Supreme Court action in Wisconsin is simply wrong and is grounded in an unprecedented process and a failure to adhere to precedent. The Court continues to put its legitimacy at risk. pic.twitter.com/4BwqNt5mGe
— Eric Holder (@EricHolder) March 23, 2022
Left-wing site Slate called the ruling an “astonishing, inexplicable blow to the Voting Rights Act.”
Journalist John Nichols called the decision “stunning” and “wrong.”
“In a stunning decision that confirms just how extreme the US Supreme Court’s majority has become, #SCOTUS has rejected the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling that embraced [Governor Evers] ’ legislative district maps. Justice Sonia Sotomayor calls the ruling ‘unprecedented.’ It’s also wrong,” he wrote.
In a stunning decision that confirms just how extreme the US Supreme Court’s majority has become, #SCOTUS has rejected the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling that embraced @GovEvers’ legislative district maps. Justice Sonia Sotomayor calls the ruling "unprecedented." It’s also wrong.
— John Nichols (@NicholsUprising) March 23, 2022