A Supreme Court shift, frowning on changes close to elections, gives House Republicans a big advantage in November.
Republicans have such control of the levers of power in Wisconsin that voters are almost immaterial,” Reid J. Epstein wrote in the On Politics newsletter. “It is the most gerrymandered state legislature in the country.”
In April, the conservative majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court voted to adopt new state legislative maps. The maps were partisan gerrymanders that had been drawn in secret after the 2010 elections, when Republicans took control from Democrats in both houses of the Legislature.
Maps in four other states were ruled illegal gerrymanders, but they’re being used anyway. Here’s why:
Since January, judges in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Ohio have found that Republican legislators illegally drew those states’ congressional maps along racial or partisan lines, or that a trial very likely would conclude that they did. In years past, judges who have reached similar findings have ordered new maps, or had an expert draw them, to ensure that coming elections were fair.
But a shift in election law philosophy at the Supreme Court, combined with a new aggressiveness among Republicans who drew the maps, has upended that model for the elections in November. This time, all four states are using the rejected maps, and questions about their legality for future elections will be hashed out in court later.