Wisconsin’s U.S. congressional redistricting based on 2010 data was upheld by a three-judge panel in Milwaukee that rejected a constitutional challenge.
Wisconsin’s population grew 323,311 in the decade following the 2000 Census to 5,686,986, necessitating redrawn federal and state legislative district lines, the panel said.
The panel, comprising one U.S. appeals court judge and judges from federal courts in Milwaukee and Chicago, affirmed redrawn boundaries for the state’s eight congressional districts while rejecting two new Milwaukee-area state assembly districts as diluting the power of Latino voters.
“We cannot turn a blind eye,” the judges said of evidence which “supports the need for a majority-minority district for Milwaukee’s Latino community, not just one or two influence districts.”
Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board, the agency responsible for administering state elections, was barred from implementing the map until the boundaries for those contiguous districts are moved to create a Latino-majority district.
April 3 Primary
The state’s presidential primary and other electoral contests are scheduled for April 3.
“We are giving the Legislature the first opportunity to address this point, but it must act quickly given the impending elections,” the judges said.
The judges also criticized the Republican-dominated process that created those districts, calling the proceedings “needlessly secret,” and “excluding input from the overwhelming majority of Wisconsin voters.”
“Tempers can flare when people are excluded from the political process, whether they’re shut out because of their party affiliation, because of their race, because of their economic status or because of any other trait,” the judges said.
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen issued a statement saying his office was reviewing the panel’s ruling and that any appeal would go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Serving on the three-judge panel were U.S. Circuit Judge Diane Wood, appointed to the federal bench by President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, in 1995; District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller of Milwaukee, nominated to the bench by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1987; and District Judge Robert M. Dow of Chicago, selected by President George W. Bush, also a Republican, in 2007.
The case is Baldus v. Baldwin, 11-cv-562, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin (Milwaukee).
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