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Wisconsin Supreme Court hands win to GOP in key ruling on new congressional maps
The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Tuesday sided with Republicans in a redistricting case that lays the groundwork for the state's current political boundaries to remain largely intact for the next decade.
In a 4-3 ruling, the court's conservative majority said it would take a "least changes" approach to Wisconsin's current legislative and congressional maps, effectively limiting any changes in political boundaries to population changes.
The ruling means that the court will make as few changes as possible to political maps drawn and adopted in 2011.
Democrats argued that those old maps - which were approved by the Republican-controlled legislature and signed by a Republican governor - were drawn to give the GOP a distinct political advantage and that the new maps should be redone entirely.
The Wisconsin state legislature is still controlled by Republicans, but the state now has a Democratic governor, Tony Evers, who vetoed the maps put forward by GOP state lawmakers this year.
In their ruling on Tuesday, however, the Wisconsin Supreme Court's conservative majority argued that the state's existing congressional maps had already passed muster, leaving no reason for the court to take more drastic action.
"The existing maps were adopted by the legislature, signed by the governor, and survived judicial review by the federal courts," the ruling reads. "Treading further than necessary to remedy their current legal deficiencies...would intrude upon the constitutional prerogatives of the political branches and unsettle the constitutional allocation of power."
The court's conservatives also said that they would not consider the partisan fairness of the state's districts, arguing that, because "partisan fairness presents a purely political question, we will not consider it."
Wisconsin's political maps are currently the subject of a pending federal lawsuit.