Presiding Judge J.P. Stadtmueller explained the request by citing a recent U.S. Supreme Court case that said redistricting is best left up to the lawmakers, not judges.It was at that point that the Republicans grounded their position on state law. I doubt if they want to move the lines, but you can see why it's an appealing argument to say the state constitution doesn't permit it.
Attorney Daniel Kelly said a 1954 ruling by the state Supreme Court established that new voter maps can be drawn only once every 10 years, to avert a never-ending stream of calls for fresh changes.Now, you've got a disputed question of state law, which the federal panel could attempt to resolve, except it's not part of resolving the legal questions presented in the case, it has to do with the panel's effort to push the parties into settlement, which, it seems, the panel suggested because of the weakness of the federal claim.
An attorney for the plaintiffs disagreed. State law only requires that new voter maps be completed in the first legislative session, attorney Douglas Poland said, and this first legislative session hasn't ended.
What is that federal claim? It seems to be about legislative secrecy: the public didn't get enough information about what was going on in the legislature.
Bills to redraw voting boundaries for state legislative districts, congressional districts and municipalities -- allegedly in ways skewed to benefit Republicans -- were introduced last July 11. The bills promptly passed the GOP-controlled Legislature and were signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker.I haven't been following the lawsuit, but, just looking at the report this morning, I do not understand what the federal claim is supposed to be. Why is this case going to trial? It sounds like a purely political dispute, and perhaps the 3-judge panel got cold feet yesterday, when the trial was supposed to begin.
Republicans in the Legislature produced completed maps before inviting any public comment. And now it's emerged that GOP lawmakers signed secrecy agreements regarding the process, stirring fresh controversy and potential legal challenges.
"The state redistricting map is rotten and the process by which it passed is rotten," said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera, a Latino advocacy group whose federal lawsuit challenging the maps brought the secrecy pacts to light. The Legislature, she said at a Feb. 8 press conference, "willfully shut out any public opinion."