Posted at 11:40 a.m. on March 24, 2022
US Supreme Court: rejects redistricting plan that state Supreme Court chose
By Ed Byrne
The Brillion News
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has rejected a plan to redistrict state Senate and state Assembly seats. The plan rejected was proposed by Governor Tony Evers and approved by the Supreme Court of Wisconsin.
The Republican-controlled state legislature challenged the plan in an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which issued its ruling on Wednesday, March 23.
The rejection was based on the state supreme court’s reading of the Voting Rights Act and its impact on redistricting.
There are currently six state Assembly districts in the Milwaukee area where black voters constitute a majority.
The Evers plan created a seventh district with a majority of voters who would likely be minorities – black and Hispanic primarily.
“The Governor’s Assembly map intentionally created seven majority-black districts – one more than the current map,” the SCOTUS majority wrote in their decision. “The Governor argued that the addition of a seventh majority-black district was necessary for compliance with the [federal] Voting Rights Act.”
The Supreme Court of Wisconsin (SCOWIS) agreed with Evers, but the U.S. Supreme Court disagreed and said that “the [state supreme court] committed legal error...”
In its decision the SCOTUS 7-2 majority approved the challenge to the state high court’s decision.
“[We] grant the petition, reverse the imposition of the Governor’s State Assembly and Senate maps, and remand to the Wisconsin Supreme Court for proceedings consistent with this opinion,” the SCOTUS ordered.
The federal high court cited the federal 1993 case of Shaw v. Reno, saying that “Under the Equal Protection Clause [of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution], districting maps that sort voters on the basis of race ‘are by their very nature odious.”
In other words, racial quotas of any kind are not permitted, except by very limited considerations within the Voting Rights Act.
In this case, the SCOTUS ruled that the Voting Rights Act (VRA) is violated whenever a plan dilutes the voting power of minorities.
The high court said that the Evers plan did that. His plan reconfigured the six black-majority districts into seven districts, with each of the new districts having a lower majority of black voters than the original six had.
In other words, the SCOTUS found that the Evers plan diluted the percentage of black voters in each district.
“He provided almost no other evidence of analysis supporting his claim that the VRA required the seven majority-black districts that he drew,” the U.S. Supreme Court ruled.
The SCOTUS ruling ordered the case back to the Wisconsin Supreme Court “for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.”
In other words, the redistricting plan for the state Senate and Assembly district cannot dilute the voting power of the black community – which the U.S. Supreme Court found that the Evers plan did, in its attempt to increase the number of black-majority districts from six to seven.