Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Wisconsin Supreme Court Is Likely to Be a Hotbed of Activity Soon

For the first time in 15 years, "Democrats" will have a majority of the Wisconsin Supreme Court as a result of the election of Janet Protasiewicz in April. We put "Democrats" in quotes because the judges are officially nonpartisan, but... everyone knows where they stand. Liberal groups in the state are champing at the bit to bring numerous key cases to the Court as soon as possible.

Highest on the list of cases Democrats want to get before the Court are Republican-drawn federal and state district maps. If the Court rules that gerrymandering violates the state Constitution, it could decide to appoint a special master to draw new maps for the U.S. House, the state House, and the state Senate. Despite the fact that Wisconsin is the most evenly balanced state in the country, the congressional delegation is 2D, 6R. A fair map could make many of the districts competitive and might cost the Republicans two or three House seats. Both chambers of the state legislature are wildly gerrymandered. The gerrymander is probably the worst in the entire country. The state House is 35D, 63R with one vacancy and the state Senate is 11D, 21R, also with one vacancy. A fair map before 2024, a presidential year in which turnout is expected to go through the roof, could conceivably flip either or both chambers.

The key issues here are (1) how fast could a case make it to the Court and (2) will the Court rule that gerrymandering violates the state Constitution. If everything moves very fast (which is not exactly the norm in the legal world), it is at least conceivable that the Democrats could have the trifecta in 2025. Then all manner of laws could be passed/repealed. Also, of course, the civil case against the fake electors (see above) is likely to end up in the state Supreme Court and if Kaul brings criminal charges against the fake electors, that will also end up there. So a lot could change due to the April election of Protasiewicz.

Gerrymandering isn't the only issue the Democrats want (re)litigated. Others include a pre-Civil War abortion law, school choice, and the 12-year-old law banning collective bargaining for public employees. And naturally, if the Wisconsin 2024 presidential election is close again, there are sure to be lawsuits and they are sure to end up in the state Supreme Court, although an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is also possible for federal elections. That is much less likely on cases involving state maps because the U.S. Supreme Court has basically kicked the matter back to the state courts.

Another (slightly weird) issue that will come before the state Supreme Court is a result of the governor's power to veto parts of bills. A bill that came to the desk of Gov. Tony Evers (D-WI) earlier this year increased spending on education per pupil by $325. The original text read in part:

"For the limit for the 2023-24 school year and the 2024-25 school year, add $325 to the result"

Evers struck out some individual characters, including numbers and a hyphen (shown in red below):

"For the limit for the 2023-24 school year and the 2024-25 school year, add $325 to the result

The final text of this line then read:

"For the limit for 2023-2425, add $325 to the result"

The result was a bill that will increase school funding every year for the next 402 years, something that Evers, a former teacher, was pleased to sign. Republicans called foul, although state law does allow the governor to veto any portion of a bill that he wants to. Needless to say, this is going to end up in the state Supreme Court as well. (V)

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