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Wisconsin Supreme Court takes up redistricting lawsuit

The Wisconsin Capitol in Madison, Wis.
The Wisconsin Capitol in Madison, Wis.(WEAU)
Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 5:31 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The state Supreme Court has agreed 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 decision 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.

The plaintiffs argue the law only gives state’s Majority Leader and Assembly Speaker authority to retain counsel outside of the Wisconsin Department of Justice when there’s an action pending. The Legislature hasn’t received the 2020 Census data, it hasn’t begun the redistricting process, and there’s no litigation pending about redistricting.

LeMahieu and Vos argue the Wisconsin Constitution gives them implied powers to retain legal counsel.

The plaintiffs want the contracts declared void and injunctions against LeMahieu and Vos from making any other payments under the agreement or making any new contracts for outside counsel unless there’s a legal action involving the Senate or Assembly or their interests.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. WBAY contributed to this report.