Madison (WQOW) -- The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on whether a lower court ruled correctly that Wisconsin's legislative district map is unconstitutional, and granted a stay of that lower court's order that required Assembly Republicans to draw new district lines this year.
The justices are expected to hear arguments on Gill. v. Whitford when the next Supreme Court term begins in October.
"I am thrilled the Supreme Court has granted our request to review the redistricting decision and that Wisconsin will have an opportunity to defend its redistricting process," wrote Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel in a statement. "As I have said before, our redistricting process was entirely lawful and constitutional, and the district court should be reversed."
Schimel appealed a November 2016 ruling by a federal three-judge panel in the U.S. 7th Circuit District Court that found Wisconsin's current State Assembly map to be unconstitutional on a 2-1 decision.
The district court judges ruled the current maps favor Republican candidates to the point where twelve Democratic plaintiffs who filed a 2015 lawsuit are being deprived of their constitutional rights by having to cast "wasted ballots."
Because Wisconsin Senate districts are comprised of multiple Assembly districts, they are also considered unconstitutional under the lower court ruling.
In January 2017, the three-judge panel ordered Wisconsin Assembly Republican leaders to draw a new map by November 1.
But in a 5-4 ruling issued Wednesday, the Supreme Court agreed to stay that order, allowing the current map to remain while the case is on appeal.
"We are disappointed in today's decision to stay the trial court interim remedy order, but we are still confident that the verdict will be upheld. In the recently concluded Covington case, the interim order was stayed, yet in the end, the plaintiffs won unanimously on the merits. We hope the Whitford case moves quickly so the maps can still be redrawn in time for a fair election to be held in 2018," wrote Sachin Cheda, spokesperson for the Fair Elections Project, which organized and launched the lawsuit.
AG Schimel calls the stay an important and positive step in the appeals process.
”The stay is particularly important because it preserves the Legislature’s time, effort, and resources while this case is pending," wrote AG Schimel. "In our stay application, I argued that requiring the Legislature to re-draw district maps this year would have been a waste of resources. I also argued that it was likely that the lower court’s decision would be eventually overturned. I am pleased that the Court granted our request on this important issue.”
Arcadia (WQOW) - Gov. Scott Walker was in Arcadia at Ashley Furniture Industries for a ground breaking ceremony.
News 18 asked him about his reaction to the court's decision to hear the redistricting case.
"It's a good thing I said all along, that the law passed year ago on redistricting was constitutional. I felt strong that the united state supreme court would ultimately uphold it, so they are taking that up today. And it's a good thing, we believe that they will ultimately hold up the law, and we will be able to continue to move forward," Walker said.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court's announcement Monday that it will hold oral arguments to decide whether Republican Wisconsin lawmakers drew electoral districts so out of whack with the state's political breakdown that they violated the constitutional rights of Democratic voters. The court also put on hold any redrawing of maps while the case is pending.
Republican Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel: "I am thrilled the Supreme Court has granted our request to review the redistricting decision and that Wisconsin will have an opportunity to defend its redistricting process. As I have said before, our redistricting process was entirely lawful and constitutional, and the district court should be reversed."
Sachin Chheda, director of the Fair Elections Project, which organized and launched the lawsuit: "We've already had two federal courts declare the map unconstitutional in part or whole. It's time for the legislature to stop with the false talking points, and focus on ensuring every Wisconsin citizen has their rights protected by drawing new maps now. We proved in federal court that Democrats and Republicans are pretty evenly clustered throughout the state and that Democrats in Wisconsin have had their rights violated. Now this story will be told on a national stage."
Sen. Jennifer Shilling, Wisconsin state Senate Democratic minority leader: "Regardless of the outcome in this case, we must remain committed to promoting election fairness, protecting voter rights and preserving our shared democratic values. Democrats will continue to champion non-partisan redistricting reform to empower citizens and restore fairness to our election process."
Rep. Peter Barca, Wisconsin state Assembly Democratic minority leader: "Voters should be able to choose their representatives, not the other way around, and I have faith that the Supreme Court will do the right thing to help end the terrible polarization we see in both Wisconsin and across America."
Jenny Dye, research director for liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now: "Wisconsin Republicans have put their own political interests before everything else with their manipulation of the rules on voting to give themselves an unfair partisan advantage. ... They've shown time and again that they can't be trusted to put what's best for our democracy before their narrow partisan political interests, and now the U.S. Supreme Court will consider if they've violated the provisions of our nation's Constitution."
Rep. Ron Kind issued a statement: "Today’s decision by the Supreme Court to hear this case is a significant step towards returning the power to Wisconsinites, by making sure it is them picking their representatives and not the other way around. However, it is not enough. I have long advocated for an independent commission to draw legislative districts, which is the only way to take partisanship out of the process."