The Supreme Court on Wednesday struck a blow to Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ redistricting map, sending the case over Wisconsin’s new district lines back to the state’s highest court for review.
The challenge came from Republican lawmakers, who argued the governor drew the map in an unconstitutional manner.
State lawmakers — along with the governor — had proposed new redistricting maps following the U.S. Census to Wisconsin’s Supreme Court, but the court adopted the governor’s plan, which had one extra majority-Black district.
The Wisconsin court adopted the governor’s reasoning that the Voting Rights Act may require that extra district. But the nation’s highest court disagreed, saying the lower court’s ruling ran afoul of the Equal Protection Clause.
“Rather than carefully evaluating evidence at the district level, the court improperly relied on generalizations to reach the conclusion,” the court’s unsigned opinion read. “Courts must always carefully and searchingly review the totality of the circumstances.”
The case is now back with the Wisconsin court for further review ahead of primary elections in August.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Elena Kagan, dissented, calling the court’s move “unprecedented.”
She said the court intervened at an emergency posture — without oral arguments and thorough briefing — after the state’s Supreme Court reviewed the matter for months.
“Despite the fact that summary reversals are generally reserved for decisions in violation of settled law, the Court today faults the State Supreme Court for its failure to comply with an obligation that, under existing precedent, is hazy at best,” she wrote. “I would allow that process to unfold, rather than further complicating these proceedings with legal confusion through a summary reversal.”