Federal Judges Largely Uphold Republican Redistricting

Blog post by Anna M. Pepelnjak

On March 22, 2012, a three-judge federal court panel of the U.S. District Court/Eastern District Of Wisconsin upheld all but two state legislative districts drawn by the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature.

The panel commented negatively in this and previous opinions on the secrecy and partisan nature of the redistricting process, even going so far as to characterize the legislator’s denial of partisanship “laughable”, but the panel’s final ruling held that the maps did not violate the law. The only violation of federal law they found required a change to heavily Latino Assembly Districts 8 and 9 in Milwaukee County.

As to the other arguments made by redistricting challengers, the court held that the population deviations were too small to demonstrate a constitutional violation, that a delay in the right to vote in certain elections did not constitute voter disenfranchisement, and that the redistricting did not violate the equal protection clause.

Under the panel’s decision, the redistricting maps will not take effect for voting purposes until the November elections. This will keep the current districts in place for the upcoming recall elections. That is, unless a state court rules otherwise.

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