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MADISON — This morning, the three-judge panel from the Eastern District of Wisconsin (Diane P. Wood, Justice-Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, J.P. Stadtmueller, District Court Judge-Eastern District of Wisconsin, and Robert M. Dow, Jr., District Court Judge-Northern District of Illinois) issued its decision in Baldus, et al. v. Brennan, et al., Case No. 11 CV 562, and Voces de la Frontera, Inc. et al. v. Brennan, Case No. 11 CV 1011, which involved challenges to 2011 Wisconsin Acts 43 and 44. Act 44 established the congressional districts within the State of Wisconsin based on 2010 census data and Act 43 established the state senate and assembly districts.
All challenges to Act 44 were rejected and the newly drawn congressional boundaries were upheld as legal and constitutional. All challenges to the state senate districts created by Act 43 also were rejected and the newly-drawn state senate districts were upheld as legal and constitutional. With respect to the state assembly districts created by Act 43, the Court rejected all constitutional challenges and all other challenges with one exception. The Court held that the plaintiffs were entitled to limited relief under the Voting Rights Act with respect to assembly districts 8 and 9. Although it recognized that Act 43 created “two Latino influence districts,” it found this to be insufficient “because Act 43 fails to create a [single] majority-minority district for Milwaukee's Latino community.” However, the Court stated that its “holding is not intended to affect any other district drawn by Act 43” and that any “redrawing of the lines for Districts 8 and 9 must occur within the combined outer boundaries of those two districts.”
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen responded to the decision as follows: “The judgments made by the Wisconsin Legislature have largely been vindicated. No constitutional defects were found and what began as a scattershot attack on every aspect of these laws has come down to a single finding that one line between two districts should be adjusted. While the intent of the maps was to create two assembly districts where Latino voters were likely to be dominant, the Court concluded that it was better to draw the line so that Latino voters were more concentrated in one of the districts.”
This decision is currently under review. Any appeal would be directly to the United States Supreme Court.
Copies of the Judgment and the Memorandum Opinion and Order are available at the following links: