It could be up to federal judges to fix the boundary lines for two Assembly districts in Milwaukee, after Republican legislators decided against reopening the reapportionment issue at the Capitol. Instead, they are asking the court to draw new maps.
Judges ruled earlier this month that Milwaukee’s 8th and 9th Assembly Districts violated the Voting Rights Act because the lines created two districts where large Latino populations could face difficulty in electing their own candidate. The court instructed the Legislature to redraw those lines so one district would have a stronger Latino voice.
Putting the issue back in the Legislature could have resulted in a contentious power struggle, now that Democrats and Republicans share control of the state Senate. Democrats have indicated they wanted to reopen discussions on maps across the state. If that happened, it’s likely the Republican-drawn maps could be overturned.
Jay Heck of Wisconsin Common Cause is not surprised by the decision to leave the specific changes to the court. He says the GOP drew a plan last summer that’s much to their advantage and they want to keep it as intact as possible. Heck says the court can make adjustments to the two already heavily Democratic districts without putting the rest of the plan at risk.
AUDIO: Jay Heck (:18)
The new boundaries for the districts on Milwaukee’s south side should be finalized by the court within a few weeks.
John Colbert, WIBA