Gov. Evers' legislative maps rejected, how it could impact candidates seeking office

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) --The U.S. Supreme Court has tossed out legislative maps drawn by Governor Tony Evers in the latest redistricting legal fight, a move that creates uncertainty on what district lines will look like as candidates prepare to run for office.

Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Gov. Tony Evers' legislative map proposal which slightly reduced Republicans' advantage in the state Legislature.

Republicans had argued Evers' proposal moved too many people to create more Black and Hispanic districts from six to seven. It’s a move GOP leaders say is a violation of the federal Voting Rights Act.

“The U.S. Supreme Court established once again that distinctions that are drawn, government actions taken based on race, are highly disfavored,” said Rick Esenberg, president and general counsel for Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. “[This ruling] affirmed that Governor Evers’ legislative maps violate the equal protection guarantees of the U.S. Constitution by racially gerrymandering districts in the Milwaukee-area.”

The decision now leaves it up to the State Supreme Court to decide which maps to select. Justices on the state's high court ruled (4-3) just a few weeks ago in favor of adopting Evers' legislative and congressional maps.

“Unfortunately, the Supreme Court of the United States today made a remarkable departure, even from their own recent actions, by deciding to reject our maps that the Wisconsin Supreme Court selected just a few weeks ago," Evers said in a statement.

Justices did decide to keep in place the governor's congressional district maps, which will remain in place.

Redrawing new district lines occurs every 10 years to reflect population changes, often called redistricting.

The high court's ruling gives Republican lawmakers a temporary victory in the redistricting battle, but advocates for nonpartisan maps worry it only creates confusion and chaos because candidates who want to run for office don't know what their district boundaries look like.

"We are so close to an election and when you start making these changes, it hurts everybody," said Sachin Chheda, director of the Fair Elections Project. "It's not about hurting Democrats or Republicans, it's about voters knowing who their choices are on the ballot."

Republican lawmakers will now get another shot to convince the State Supreme Court to accept their "least change" approach to their current maps drawn in 2011, which are considered as some of the most gerrymandered in the nation.

"Now Republicans might even get a better deal, because they had a map that was already in their favor and maps drawn to their benefit in 2011," said Anthony Chergosky, political science associate professor at UW-La Crosse.

It also gives Evers time to rework his legislative map proposal, which offered Democrats more competitive districts and avoided giving Republicans a chance at gaining a veto proof majority.

"This is really a time of uncertainty for both political parties and a time when Tony Evers suffers a real big blow in terms of having his veto proof intact," Chergosky said.

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