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The Wisconsin Supreme Court is erstwhile again connected the receiving extremity of an bonzer petition from the leaders of the Wisconsin Legislature. This time, the plea is for the precocious tribunal to circumvent the mean judicial process and dive headlong into a redistricting-related ineligible challenge. But the lawsuit isn’t astir caller maps: with the Census information delayed, Wisconsin apt won’t adjacent person caller maps to reason astir until autumn. This lawsuit is astir the quality of legislative leaders to prosecute backstage attorneys — connected the nationalist dime — adjacent erstwhile they could trust connected the Department of Justice oregon different authorities lawyers for counsel related to redistricting.
In precocious 2020 and aboriginal 2021, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu signed contracts with backstage lawyers, promising to wage hundreds of thousands of dollars. The metre began to tally successful January, adjacent though the Census Bureau inactive hasn’t delivered the information for the drafting of caller maps. With nary caller maps to quality and nary suit pending, the legislators had nary ineligible authorization to prosecute backstage attorneys. A circuit tribunal voided the costly contracts successful April, a determination the tribunal of appeals has present repeatedly declined to enactment connected hold.
Frustrated with this result, Vos and LeMahieu ran consecutive to the Supreme Court, asking that their lawsuit beryllium enactment connected a peculiar fast-track that is antithetic from however different appeals proceed.
We filed a little successful absorption to their requests. We judge that successful high-profile oregon politically charged cases, it is particularly important to travel the accustomed ineligible processes. Sticking faithfully to these time-tested and well-developed procedures is the champion mode to warrant that the astir important ineligible issues volition person thorough, considered reappraisal by the courts. And lone holding specified cases to regular procedures tin instill nationalist assurance that our courts are judging impartially, without fearfulness oregon favor.
That is wherefore we’re asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to artifact this attempted end-run astir the ineligible process. Our “friend-of-the-court” brief, filed Thursday, argues that the Justices should garbage to marque bonzer allowances conscionable due to the fact that politicians outcry for urgency. If we’ve learned thing from the caller deluge of predetermination litigation (and the pandemic litigation, and the pandemic-election litigation), it’s that adjacent erstwhile clip is tight, process matters. Steady, accordant adherence to the established process is captious for nationalist spot successful our ineligible system.
We don’t deliberation the courts got it close successful each azygous 1 of those cases, and we don’t asseverate that pursuing the appellate process guarantees bully outcomes erstwhile courts marque decisions connected large ineligible issues. But it is often a prerequisite. Procedural fairness is important for our judicial system. All parties should beryllium treated fairly, nary substance their station. Only past tin the nationalist person assurance successful the courts.
In this instance, determination is not adjacent a downside to sticking to the mean process. There is nary unreserved to resoluteness the lawsuit astir the out-sourced ineligible counsel. No 1 has yet filed a ineligible situation to caller maps; indeed, determination is not yet adjacent immoderate information to usage successful drafting caller maps. Let the ineligible process work. When and if the legislators’ claims are ripe to beryllium reviewed by the Supreme Court, they tin be.
But not before. They shouldn’t beryllium allowed to chopped successful line.
Notably, different contented lurks successful Vos and LeMahieu’s insistence that the Supreme Court measurement successful and reverse the destiny of their redistricting contracts. Even if they judge the circuit tribunal got it incorrect erstwhile it voided their costly retainer agreements, a triumph volition not beryllium arsenic elemental arsenic the precocious tribunal flipping a switch. In our little astatine the circuit court we explained why, adjacent erstwhile a redistricting suit is filed, legislators cannot usage nationalist dollars to beforehand their partisan governmental goals.
If their plans for redistricting look thing similar the partisan gerrymander they saddled Wisconsin with successful 2011, the measure for that ineligible enactment should spell consecutive to the Republican Party.
Vos and LeMahieu are entitled to ineligible advice, and to the lawyers of their choice, but taxpayers don’t person to prime up the tab. In fact, the Wisconsin Constitution prohibits spending payer wealth for backstage purposes (like seeking partisan governmental advantages). This “Public Purpose Doctrine” has protected Wisconsinites and their taxation dollars since statehood. While Judge Ehlke’s ruling astatine the circuit tribunal noted this issue, helium appropriately concluded that it was unnecessary to measurement those law arguments astatine the clip — the lack of a pending redistricting suit was capable to marque the legislators’ contracts unlawful.
Should the Supreme Court reverse that statutory decision, the adjacent measurement is to grapple with the law issues presented by this case. The Public Purpose Doctrine exists to guarantee that erstwhile authorities spends taxation revenue, it does truthful to beforehand nationalist interests alternatively than to enactment the pockets of cronies oregon prevention elected officials from idiosyncratic expenses. The Legislature’s authorization to walk nationalist dollars is wide — each of america spot our taxation dollars utilized to money things we’d personally similar not walk wealth connected — but that authorization is not unlimited.
Let’s analyse the existent situation. These contracts for ineligible services were signed by legislative enactment earlier determination was a authorities instrumentality (a caller redistricting plan) to defend. They’ve retained immoderate of the aforesaid lawyers who helped their caucuses plan and entrench the 2011 partisan gerrymander, recognized by a national tribunal arsenic 1 of the astir utmost partisan gerrymanders successful the past half-century. Those maps allowed their governmental enactment to support a stranglehold connected ideology successful Wisconsin for a decade, careless of which enactment won a bulk of votes statewide. The maps serve, then, to support Vos and LeMahieu’s ain governmental power.
If legislators request ineligible proposal arsenic they undertake redistricting, they request lone ask. The Department of Justice — the authorities of Wisconsin’s instrumentality steadfast — employs hundreds of lawyers, whose salaries are already funded by the public. The Legislature itself has respective in-house work agencies, which are besides location to a talented ineligible staff, determination to supply method assistance erstwhile called upon by our lawmakers.
The information is that legislative enactment whitethorn person the backstage attorneys of their choosing. They whitethorn person attorneys paid for by the taxpayers. But they can’t person some astatine erstwhile successful this case. Unsatisfied with that ineligible reality, they are asking the Supreme Court for a short-cut. The Court should contradict that bonzer request.
Wisconsin’s precocious tribunal shouldn’t fto Vos and LeMahieu chopped successful line was primitively published by the Wisconsin Examiner.
- Op Ed: Vos, LeMahieu Want Special Legal Treatment - Mel Barnes and Matt Rothschild - Jul 10th, 2021
- Rushed Redistricting Bill Drafted In March - Melanie Conklin - Jun 13th, 2021
- Rep. Robyn Vining Urges Passage of Fair Maps Legislation - State Rep. Robyn Vining - May 19th, 2021
- Capitol Rally For Nonpartisan Redistricting - Shawn Johnson - May 18th, 2021
- Fight For Fair Maps Heats Up - Ruth Conniff - May 16th, 2021
- State Supreme Court Rejects Redistricting Rule Change - Shawn Johnson - May 14th, 2021
- Law Forward connected Supreme Court Rejection of Redistricting Rulemaking Petition - Law Forward - May 14th, 2021
- Republicans Lose Lawyers Before Redistricting Starts - State Sen. Melissa Agard - Apr 29th, 2021
- Judge Prohibits Republicans Using Private Lawyers for Redistricting - Shawn Johnson - Apr 29th, 2021
- Op Ed: How Gerrymandered Are We? - Kevin Baas - Apr 29th, 2021
Read much astir Gerrymandering of Legislative Districts here