Wisconsin Supreme Court takes redistricting lawsuit

Wisconsin State Capitol

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin state Supreme Court agreed Thursday to review a Dane County judge’s ruling that Republican legislative leaders illegally hired private taxpayer-funded attorneys to represent them in anticipation of legal challenges over redistricting.

Judge Stephen Ehlke in April voided the GOP’s contracts with two outside law firms. The deals allowed for spending more than $1 million for representation.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu asked the conservative-leaning high court earlier this month to take the case without waiting for a ruling from a lower appeals court.

The court announced late Thursday it would review Ehlke’s ruling and ordered his ruling stayed while it considers the case.

Four Madison teachers, including the current and incoming teachers union president, brought the lawsuit arguing that state law does not allow for legislative leaders to hire attorneys outside the state Department of Justice before a lawsuit has been filed.

The Legislature has yet to begin the redistricting process. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers will likely veto any new maps Republicans produce, setting up a court battle.