UPDATED: Top State Republicans Say It's Too Late to Change District Maps
Attorney representing GOP legislative leaders told a three-judge panel late Tuesday a 1954 state Supreme Court opinion only allowed for one district map change per decade.
An attorney representing top state Republicans told three federal judges Tuesday night they were willing to revisit district maps but they didn't believe they had the power to do so.
Republican lawmakers were asked earlier Tuesday to consider redrawing the new legislative and congressional district boundary maps, with challenges from Democrats and Latinos in mind, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
However, the attorney, Dan Kelly, said he believed a 1954 opinion by the state Supreme Court wouldn't allow for any changes, arguing lawmakers were only allowed to make changes to maps once a decade, the newspaper reports.
Those challenging the state over the maps say they disagree and believe the new boundaries can be changed.
Legislators are constitutionally required to redistrict every 10 years based on new census population figures and demographic changes. With legal challenges aside, the maps go into effect in 2012.
The new maps might affect Shorewood more than other communities in the state. They dramatically transform the political landscape of the village, shifting the village from the 8th Senate district under Sen. Albert Darling (R-River Hills) to the 4th Senate District controlled by Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee).
Without liberal-leaning Shorewood, the 8th Senate District would see a more suburban, more conservative constituency, stretching north into Grafton and as far west as the town of Erin in Washington County.
The bill would also move Shorewood out of the 22nd Assembly District under Rep. Sandy Pasch (D-Whitefish Bay) and into the 10th district under Democratic freshman Rep. Elizabeth Coggs from Milwaukee. Shorewood resident and Darling recall effort leader Kristopher Rowe said he will run for the 10th district in 2012.
In addition, Shorewood would no longer fall under Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner's 5th District in the House of Representatives, but rather into the 4th District under Democratic Rep. Gwen Moore.
Upon approval of the new boundaries by Republicans, Democrats immediately labeled them unfair and a product of gerrymandering.
Democrats have since challenged the maps in court, arguing the new maps are unconstitutional because 300,000 people wouldn't be able to vote in state Senate races next year as they now live in a different district.
Additionally, a Latino community group filed a complaint arguing Republicans violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and that the maps are unfair to Latino areas because it moves hundreds of thousands of people into new districts.
In addition, documents were revealed earlier this month detailing legal agreements instructing state Republican leaders to ignore public comments and instead concentrate on information from secret sessions as new maps were drawn. The documents also included a set of talking points for GOP legislators.
The three-judge panel has since ordered Republicans to turn over the documents to a group of Democrats.