Supreme Court to review partisan redistricting

WASHINGTON (AP) -- 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. Scott Walker remains confident that GOP-drawn legislative district maps will survive a Supreme Court review.

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."

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. 

The justices said Monday they will decide whether Republican lawmakers drew electoral districts so out of whack with the state's political breakdown that they violated the constitutional rights of Democratic voters.

It's the high court's first case on what's known as partisan gerrymandering in more than a decade, and the outcome could affect elections across the country.

The case will be argued in the fall.

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