The Supreme Court’s order on Wednesday angered Wisconsin Democrats.
After refusing to consider Voting Rights Act claims “in other states because ‘it’s too close to the election,’ the U.S. Supreme Court today violated its own precedent and any measure of common sense,” said Sachin Chheda, an ally of Mr. Evers who is the director of the Fair Elections Project in Wisconsin. “Never has it been clearer that the U.S. Supreme Court majority will do anything it can to advance Republican interests, rather than the law, the Constitution and the will of the people.”
The Supreme Court has already agreed to consider the role race may play in drawing voting districts in a case from Alabama that it will hear in its next term, which starts in October. In that case, Merrill v. Milligan, No. 21- 1086, the court reinstated a congressional map that had been drawn by the State Legislature, blocking a ruling from a federal court that the map diluted the power of Black voters.
How U.S. Redistricting Works
What is redistricting? It’s the redrawing of the boundaries of congressional and state legislative districts. It happens every 10 years, after the census, to reflect changes in population.
How does it work? The census dictates how many seats in Congress each state will get. Mapmakers then work to ensure that a state’s districts all have roughly the same number of residents, to ensure equal representation in the House.
Who draws the new maps? Each state has its own process. Eleven states leave the mapmaking to an outside panel. But most — 39 states — have state lawmakers draw the new maps for Congress.
If state legislators can draw their own districts, won’t they be biased? Yes. Partisan mapmakers often move district lines — subtly or egregiously — to cluster voters in a way that advances a political goal. This is called gerrymandering.
Is gerrymandering legal? Yes and no. In 2019, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal courts have no role to play in blocking partisan gerrymanders. However, the court left intact parts of the Voting Rights Act that prohibit racial or ethnic gerrymandering.
The Alabama case differed from the Wisconsin one in at least two ways: It involved federal rather than state elections and a ruling from a federal rather than a state court.
In the Supreme Court’s second ruling on Wednesday, the justices rejected a separate emergency application concerning Wisconsin’s congressional districts.
The practical consequences of that order were likely to be minor, as the State Supreme Court said it chose the new congressional map, which was also drawn by Mr. Evers, because it hewed most closely to one drawn by Republicans in 2011. The state’s House delegation is currently split 5 to 3 in favor of the G.O.P., though Republicans are favored to win a sixth seat under the new maps.
The congressmen said the Wisconsin Supreme Court had performed a bait-and-switch in soliciting proposed maps. In November, the court said it would favor the map that minimized changes to the previous one. But it also indicated, according to the congressmen, that it would consider not only so-called core retention, a measure of voters who remained in their prior districts, but also whether new maps avoided splitting counties, municipalities and communities of interest.
But when the court chose a map in March, it “swapped its holistic least-change approach, which approach was to take account of multiple factors, for a core-retention-maximization-only standard that looked exclusively to the core-retention scores,” the congressmen told the Supreme Court in an emergency application.