WILL/Jensen Rule Petition on Redistricting

Rule Petition 20-03

Nov. 30, 2020: Redistricting in Wisconsin may not have officially started yet, but former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen and the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty are already trying to change the rules for any lawsuits related to the process. Their petition asks the Supreme Court of Wisconsin to adopt special procedures for litigation on redistricting—a set of procedures that is deeply flawed and would shortchange the legal review of new maps. WILL filed a petition and supporting memo in June of 2020. When the State Supreme Court set a 30-day period for public comment in November, Law Forward raised concerns and educated the public and legal scholars about the impact this proposal would have if adopted.

The proposed rule would automatically send redistricting lawsuits to the State Supreme Court as an original action, without fact-finding by a trial court or appellate review of legal holdings. The proposal would also give political parties automatic standing to be heard by the Supreme Court in a dispute over maps, but not extend that right to nonpartisan groups or individual voters. Our full analysis of the issues with this proposal was filed with the Court.

The Supreme Court heard public testimony on this proposal on January 14, 2020 and issued an order on May 14, 2021.

Case Timeline


November 30, 2020

Comment filed.

May 14, 2021

The State Supreme Court rejected this harmful proposal to short-change the legal process for redistricting litigation in Wisconsin. The Court agreed with Law Forward and others who spoke out against this proposal.

Law Forward is proud of the role it played in opposing this ill-conceived rule petition, working with a broad array of advocates and citizens in Wisconsin to analyze the legal issues and their likely impact. This effort led to the submission of approximately 2,000 written public comments and hours of testimony in opposition to this rule. The voluminous public testimony was explicitly cited by the Court in its order.

Today the rule of law held. But we can never afford to take that for granted, especially with major actions around redistricting looming.  Law Forward stands ready to advocate for fair maps whenever and wherever the legality of new districts in Wisconsin are brought before a court.

Redistricting & Fair Maps

Wisconsin Supreme Court