Wisconsin Supreme Court prepares to weigh in on recall election question

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Posted at 12:03 PM, Mar 19, 2024

MADISON (AP) — A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Tuesday asked for arguments within two days related to a question over what legislative boundaries should be in place for a potential recall election organized by supporters of former President Donald Trump.

The recall targets the state's top Republican, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, because he refused to impeach the state's top elections official or proceed with attempting to decertify President Joe Biden's 2020 victory in Wisconsin.

The bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission asked the state Supreme Court to decide which maps should be used for any recall or special election that's held before November.

Recall organizers submitted petitions last week, but an initial review by the Wisconsin Elections Commission determined they did not have enough valid signatures from the district Vos was elected to serve in 2022. Also, numerous people have said their signatures were forged, leading to an investigation by the Racine County district attorney.

Recall organizers on Monday said that some "unverified petitions slipped through due to a volunteer oversight," but they called it an isolated mistake. Vos has until Thursday to challenge signatures.

Additionally, it's not clear what legislative district boundary lines should be used for determining what signatures are valid, how many are needed and where any recall election would take place.

The liberal-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court in December tossed the legislative maps that were last used in 2022 and barred them from being used in future elections. The new maps signed into law last month by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers don't take effect until November.

The court, in a 5-2 order on Tuesday, gave all parties in the redistricting case until Thursday to file a response to the request for clarity from the Elections Commission.

Conservative Chief Justice Annette Ziegler, along with Justice Rebecca Bradley, dissented. At best, they said, any action by the court is premature because the question was not properly before the court. They also noted that no recall election has been ordered yet.

The commission has until April 11 to determine whether a recall election should be called. Either side can challenge its decision in court.

"The court should not even pretend to be poised to issue a decision in a nonexistent case presenting a hypothetical question," Ziegler and Bradley wrote.

The question about district boundaries the justices are being asked to resolve is "a thorny and complicated matter not easily answered, even if we were the law firm for WEC," they said.

They blamed the confusion over district boundaries on the liberal court majority that overturned the legislative maps and ordered new ones.