MADISON, Wis. - The Supreme Court is putting the redrawing of Wisconsin legislative districts on hold while the justices consider the issue of partisan gerrymandering.
The justices issued their order Monday about 90 minutes after they agreed to hear the Wisconsin case in the fall, the first case on partisan politics and redistricting in more than a decade.
The court's five conservative justices voted to stop the redistricting process. The four liberals would have let it proceed.
A three-judge court struck down the districts as an illegal partisan gerrymander and ordered new ones to be put in place for the 2018 elections.
The Supreme Court is unlikely to decide the Wisconsin case before early next year.
WI attorney general happy redistricting on hold
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel is praising the Supreme Court's decision to put on hold an earlier ruling that new legislative maps be drawn.
The court on Monday stayed a ruling requiring the Republican-controlled Legislature to draw new maps by November. The court also announced it will hear arguments in the case brought by Democrats challenging the constitutionality of the existing maps.
Schimel says the stay "preserves the Legislature's time, effort and resources while this case is pending."
Campaign Legal Center attorney Paul Smith is the lead lawyer in the case challenging the maps. Smith says the court can decide the case in time for new maps to be drawn for the 2018 fall election.
Gov. Walker confident districts will survive review
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker remains confident that GOP-drawn legislative district maps will survive a Supreme Court review.
The nation's highest court on Monday said it will hear arguments in the case. Justices also put on hold an earlier ruling requiring that new maps be drawn by November.
Walker spokesman Tom Evenson says the Republican governor "is confident Wisconsin's redistricting process is constitutional and is pleased to see the Supreme Court take the case."
Democratic state legislative leaders say they have faith that the Supreme Court will uphold lower court rulings that found the maps unconstitutionally favored Republicans.
Democratic state Assembly leader Peter Barca says "Voters should be able to choose their representatives, not the other way around."
Wisconsin AG 'thrilled' high court to hear case
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel says he is "thrilled" the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a lawsuit brought by Democrats challenging redistricting maps drawn by Republicans.
A panel of three federal judges previously ruled that the maps unconstitutionally harmed Democrats because districts were drawn in a way that unfairly benefited Republicans.
Schimel is a Republican who is defending the maps. He said on Monday that Wisconsin's "redistricting process was entirely lawful and constitutional, and the district court should be reversed."
Sachin Chheda is director of the Fair Elections Project, which organized and launched the lawsuit. He says Democrats proved in court that their rights were violated and "now this story will be told on a national stage.
Reaction to court's decision to hear redistricting case
Sen. Jennifer Shilling, Wisconsin state Senate Democratic minority leader: "Regardless of the outcome in this case, we must remain committed to promoting election fairness, protecting voter rights and preserving our shared democratic values. Democrats will continue to champion non-partisan redistricting reform to empower citizens and restore fairness to our election process."
Rep. Peter Barca, Wisconsin state Assembly Democratic minority leader: "Voters should be able to choose their representatives, not the other way around, and I have faith that the Supreme Court will do the right thing to help end the terrible polarization we see in both Wisconsin and across America."
Jenny Dye, research director for liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now: "Wisconsin Republicans have put their own political interests before everything else with their manipulation of the rules on voting to give themselves an unfair partisan advantage. ... They've shown time and again that they can't be trusted to put what's best for our democracy before their narrow partisan political interests, and now the U.S. Supreme Court will consider if they've violated the provisions of our nation's Constitution."
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