Now Democrats and fair-maps advocates are worried that Republicans might make an end-run around Evers by means of a joint resolution, passing a new map through the Assembly and Senate. Because joint resolutions do not require the governor’s signature, the map could go into effect without any input from the governor.
“We believe that the legislative Republicans are already working with the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, and they are geared up to do reapportionment in 2021 by means of a joint resolution,” said attorney Lester Pines, who has challenged the constitutionality of laws enacted by the state legislature on voter I.D., abortion restrictions, executive power and other issues. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has already held that redistricting by joint resolution is unconstitutional, but the current court, dominated by Republican-backed justices, might be willing to overturn that 54-year-old precedent, Pines added. “And the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty will be geared up to argue that it is constitutional.”
“I’ve heard about it,” Rick Esenberg, executive director of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), said of the plan. WILL, a legal institute that backs conservative causes, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Supreme Court’s Gill v Whitford redistricting case, siding with the Republican state lawmakers who drew the current map.
WILL is not currently working with Republican legislators on the joint-resolution plan, Esenberg said: “Whether we would have anything to do with it, I can’t say.”
But, he added, “I understand the argument. The argument is the constitution reserves [redistricting] to the state legislature, and it should be taken literally; the state legislature should do it.”
“It would require that precedent be overruled,” Esenberg acknowledged. But, he added, “I don’t think it’s a frivolous argument.”