JOHNSON V. WEC

Case Name: Johnson v. Wisconsin Elections Commission

Type of Case: Rule of Law, Redistricting

Court: Wisconsin Supreme Court

Filed On: August 23, 2021

Current Status: U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Wisconsin Supreme Court on March 23, 2022. The Wisconsin Supreme Court selected maps produced by the Legislature on April 15, 2022.

Press Releases

WI SUPREME COURT SELECTS RACE-NEUTRAL LEGISLATIVE MAPS

April 15, 2022 | The Wisconsin Supreme Court selected legislative maps submitted by the Wisconsin Legislature in a 4-3 decision. The Wisconsin Supreme Court was required to review its March 2022 decision after the U.S. Supreme Court determined the maps submitted by Governor Evers, and selected by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, were racially gerrymandered, and violated the Constitution’s equal protection guarantees.

U.S. SUPREME COURT REVERSES WI SUPREME COURT, GOV. EVERS’ MAPS UNCONSTITUTIONAL

March 23, 2022 | The United States Supreme Court issued a 7-2 decision reversing the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s selection of Governor Tony Evers’s legislative maps. The per curiam decision said, “We agree that the court committed legal error in its application of decisions of this Court regarding the relationship between the constitutional guarantee of equal protection and the VRA.”

WILL JOINS REDISTRICTING APPEAL TO U.S. SUPREME COURT

March 7, 2022 | The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) joined an appeal by the Wisconsin Legislature to the U.S. Supreme Court arguing the maps submitted by Governor Tony Evers and selected by a majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, are a racial gerrymander that violates the Constitution’s equal protection guarantees. The U.S. Constitution makes clear that any government action based on race is subject to strict scrutiny.

RESPONSE TO WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT DECISION ON REDISTRICTING

March 3, 2022 | The Wisconsin Supreme Court selected federal and legislative maps submitted by Governor Tony Evers in a decision issued on March 4, 2022. The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) filed the legal challenge with the Wisconsin Supreme Court in August 2021 on behalf of Wisconsin voters who lived in malapportioned districts as a result of the 2020 census.

WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT ADOPTS CRITERIA FOR REDISTRICTING IN WILL LAWSUIT

November 30, 2021 | The Wisconsin Supreme Court issued an opinion in Johnson v. WEC, a Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) redistricting case, that adopts criteria for the redistricting process.

WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT TAKES WILL REDISTRICTING CASE

September 22, 2021 | The Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed to take an original action filed by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) that would allow the court to take jurisdiction of the redistricting process in the event the legislature and governor cannot agree on new state legislative and congressional maps.

WILL ASKS WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT TO TAKE JURISDICTION OF REDISTRICTING

August 23, 2021 | WILL filed an original action with the Wisconsin Supreme Court urging the Court to declare the current legislative districts unconstitutional and establish a judicial plan of apportionment.

The Original Action: WILL filed an original action with the Wisconsin Supreme Court urging the Court to declare the current legislative districts unconstitutional and establish a judicial plan of apportionment. WILL represents four Wisconsin voters who live in legislative districts that, as a result of the 2020 Census, now have their vote unconstitutionally diluted, counting less than if they lived in a different district.

Background: The Wisconsin Constitution guarantees that every voter is entitled to equal representation summarized in the principle of ‘one man, one vote.’ But the results of the 2020 Census reveal that population increases and decreases in Wisconsin have rendered Wisconsin’s legislative maps unconstitutional. Voters who currently reside in districts that have seen population increases now have their votes diluted, potentially violating their constitutional rights.

The state legislature and the governor are tasked with approving new legislative maps. But in all likelihood, divided government will result in an impasse that will require a judicial plan for apportionment.

While federal litigation has already commenced, both the United States Supreme Court and the Wisconsin Supreme Court have made clear that reapportionment is primarily a responsibility of the state legislature and courts. While the Wisconsin Supreme Court declined to adopt a rule for such cases earlier this year, it made clear that the absence of a rule did not preclude the exercise of jurisdiction.

November 30, 2021 Supreme Court Decision: The Wisconsin Supreme Court issued an opinion that adopts criteria for the redistricting process. The decision from the Wisconsin Supreme Court adopts WILL’s proposal that the Court not consider political partisanship when approving new legislative districts, and will seek to make the “least changes” from the current maps.

March 3, 2022 Supreme Court Decision: The Wisconsin Supreme Court selected federal and legislative maps submitted by Governor Tony Evers. WILL President and General Counsel, Rick Esenberg, said, “Late last year, in response to litigation brought by WILL, the Court committed to a ‘least changes’ approach to redistricting and rejected activist arguments that would redraw Wisconsin’s maps based on partisan considerations, such as attempting to compensate for the geographic concentration of Democratic voters. Neither the Governor’s proposed maps nor those submitted by any other party were allowed to be drawn in order to maximize a party’s electoral prospects. While we have concerns with the Court’s treatment of the Voting Rights Act, we’ll leave it to partisans to score the political advantages and disadvantages of the court-selected maps.”

March 8, 2022 U.S. Supreme Court Appeal: WILL joined an appeal by the Wisconsin Legislature to the U.S. Supreme Court arguing the maps submitted by Governor Tony Evers and selected by a majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, are a racial gerrymander that violates the Constitution’s equal protection guarantees. The U.S. Constitution makes clear that any government action based on race is subject to strict scrutiny.

March 23, 2022 U.S. Supreme Court Decision: The United States Supreme Court issued a 7-2 decision reversing the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s selection of Governor Tony Evers’s legislative maps. The per curiam decision said, “We agree that the court committed legal error in its application of decisions of this Court regarding the relationship between the constitutional guarantee of equal protection and the VRA.” The case is remanded back to the Wisconsin Supreme Court for further proceedings. 

April 15, 2022 Wisconsin Supreme Court Decision: The Wisconsin Supreme Court selected legislative maps submitted by the Wisconsin Legislature in a 4-3 decision. The Wisconsin Supreme Court was required to review its March 2022 decision after the U.S. Supreme Court determined the maps submitted by Governor Evers, and selected by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, were racially gerrymandered, and violated the Constitution’s equal protection guarantees.

Chief Justice Annette Ziegler, writing for the majority, said, “the maps proposed by the Wisconsin Legislature are race neutral. The Legislature’s maps comply with the Equal Protection Clause, along with all other applicable federal and state legal requirements. Further, the Legislature’s maps exhibit minimal changes to the existing maps, in accordance with the least change approach we adopted… Therefore, we adopt the state senate and assembly maps proposed by the Legislature for the State of Wisconsin.”

 

Rick Esenberg

Rick Esenberg

President and General Counsel

rick@will-law.org

Anthony Lococo

Anthony Lococo

Deputy Counsel

alococo@will-law.org

Lucas Vebber

Lucas Vebber

Deputy Counsel

lucas@will-law.org

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