Wisconsin Republicans ask liberal justice not to hear redistricting case

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Five of Wisconsin’s Republican members of Congress, along with the GOP-controlled Legislature, are calling on the state Supreme Court’s new liberal member not to hear a redistricting process which seeks to redraw the congressional maps before the November elections.

The court has not yet decided whether or not it will hear the case filed this month by Elias Law Group, a Democratic law firm based in the nation’s capital. The court has already struck down state legislative maps drawn by Republicans and is in the process of determining what the new lines will be.

The new lawsuit argues that decision last month ordering new state legislative maps opens the door to the latest challenge focused on congressional lines.

Republicans demanded justice in this case Janet Protasiewicz to recuse herself, based on comments she made during her campaign calling the legislative maps “rigged” and “unfair.” She refused to withdraw and was part of the 4-3 majority in December that ordered new cards.

Today, Republicans are making similar arguments asking him not to hear Congress’ challenge to redistricting. In a motion filed Monday, they argued that his comments critical of Republican maps required him to step down in order to avoid a violation of the U.S. Constitution. They also cite the nearly $10 million his campaign received from the Wisconsin Democratic Party.

“A judge cannot decide a case about which he or she has prejudged or where his or her participation creates a serious risk of actual bias,” Republicans argued in the motion. “Judge Protasiewicz’s public campaign statements establish a constitutionally intolerable risk that she may have prejudged the merits of this case. .”

Protasiewicz rejected similar arguments in the state legislative redistricting case, saying in October that the law did not require him to recuse himself from that case.

“Recusal decisions are controlled by law,” Protasiewicz wrote at the time. “It’s not a matter of personal preference. If precedent requires it, I must recuse myself. But if precedent does not warrant challenge, my oath requires me to participate.

Protasiewicz said that was the case even if the issue at hand, like redistricting, was controversial.

“Respect for the law must always prevail,” she wrote. “Allowing politics or pressure to influence my decision would betray my oath and destroy judicial independence. »

Those seeking his recusal in the congressional redistricting case are the GOP-controlled Wisconsin Legislature and Republican U.S. Reps. Scott Fitzgerald, Glenn Grothman, Mike Gallagher, Bryan Steil and Tom Tiffany.

The only Republican not involved in the lawsuit is U.S. Rep. Derrick Van Orden, who represents western Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District. It is one of only two congressional districts in Wisconsin considered competitive.

Wisconsin’s current congressional maps were drawn by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and approved by the state Supreme Court. The United States Supreme Court in March 2022 refused to block that they take effect.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has an extremely tight deadline to consider the challenge. State election officials said new maps must be in place by March 15 so candidates and election officials can adequately prepare for the Aug. 13 primary. Candidates will be able to begin circulating their nomination papers on April 15.

The lawsuit argues that the court has time to accept the submitted maps and select one that will be in place for the November election.

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