Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

WI Rs Refuse to Re-Draw Maps; Trial Resumes Tomorrow

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Here’s the latest regarding the trial going on in the United States District Court (Eastern Division of Wisconsin) — the Wisconsin Republicans, who control the Legislature, the Governor’s chair, and the state Supreme Court, have decided they “do not have the power” to re-draw the maps as the three-judge panel headed by Judge Stadtmueller asked them to do.

Here’s the link to the story at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/judicial-panel-says-gop-should-consider-new-election-maps-4v49cpj-139829743.html

Now, as to the merits of the Republican argument?  They are pointing to a 1954 Wisconsin state Supreme Court decision, which the Rs believe disallows any re-drawing of the district maps; the Rs say they would “like to” revisit the maps, but they just can’t.  The reason this is such a big deal is that every ten years, these maps must be re-drawn; because the Rs won all three branches of the state government, there was almost nothing the Democrats could do to stop them from doing anything they liked.   This is the main reason the Democrats sued.

Here’s a new quote from the updated story at the Journal-Sentinel:

The panel – which includes two judges appointed by Republican presidents and one appointed by a Democratic president – has repeatedly criticized Republican lawmakers in written orders for their secretive process for drawing the maps.

On Tuesday, presiding Judge J.P. Stadtmueller did the same shortly after hearing that attorneys for the legislators had released a new batch of emails Friday that they had not previously disclosed they had. The release of emails came a day after the court had ordered the lawmakers’ attorneys to make public a separate group of emails.

“The facts are the facts and what has occurred here is beyond the pale in terms of lack of transparency (and) secrecy,” Stadtmueller said. “Appearances are everything and Wisconsin has prided itself one generation after another on openness and fairness in doing the right thing. And to be frank we have seen everything but that in the way this case has proceeded.”

Now, the lack of transparency regarding e-mails may seem like a minor issue, but if you’ve followed along with my previous blogs upon the subject, you know it isn’t.  The Rs have been chastised four separate times to date over their lack of transparency; as Judge Stadtmueller said above, this isn’t the right thing to do.

Here’s the deal, folks.  What the Rs have done in Wisconsin reminds me of the old axiom that goes like this:  “Power corrupts.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  This is because they felt they could do anything they liked and no one would say anything to them over it.  Even after hundreds of thousands went out to protest all over the state of Wisconsin last year over the high-handed, dictatorial way Governor Scott Walker went about eliminating collective bargaining for most public-employee union members, the Rs didn’t change their ways.

Now, the Rs have been sued because of the way these maps have been drawn.  And they say they “lack the power” to change them even though they control all three branches of government.

I’m sorry.  I don’t buy this argument, and I am really disgusted that it’s taken this three-judge panel to get the Rs to admit they really should re-draw these maps (but they just can’t).

As I said before, I fully expect the three-judge panel to be excoriated by the Rs in coming days.  The Rs have a great deal of money and can put many ads on television; they’ll blame “activist judges,” no doubt, and hope that the people don’t realize that two of the three judges on the panel were appointed by Republican Presidents, including Judge Stadtmueller himself (appointed by Ronald Reagan).

What it seems to me the state GOP is hoping for is that the district court will rule against them; after that, they will appeal to the United States Supreme Court, and because there are five well-known conservative justices there, they figure they will get their way.  (Two of the five, in particular, would seem to be sympathetic right off the bat — Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia — but it’s possible even they might find the way the Wisconsin Rs have behaved objectionable.)

But there’s nothing saying that the five conservative justices on the Supreme Court must back the Wisconsin GOP, now, is there?  Because if all conservatives behaved the same way, wouldn’t you think this three-judge panel would’ve tossed this lawsuit summarily right off the bat, as two of the three judges on the panel are conservative-appointees?

It’s anyone’s guess as to whether or not these maps are going to hold up.  But my hunch is that they’ll be overturned, even if they do get appealed to the US Supreme Court; eventually, these maps will end up being re-drawn by the courts.  And providing these maps are indeed overturned, that will be a victory for the people of Wisconsin.

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Written by Barb Caffrey

February 21, 2012 at 11:29 pm

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