By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Now that phony Tony has vetoed the Republican political maps proposal, the legal battle is heading to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. And liberal Justice Rebecca Dallet may soon have a decision to make.
To recuse or not to recuse, that is the question.
As Empower Wisconsin reported last week, Dallet talks a big game when it comes to money and influence in elections. In her 2018 campaign for the bench, Dallet campaign manager Jessica Lovejoy said Dallet believes “if an organization is spending hundreds of thousands to elect a Supreme Court justice, the justice should recuse themselves when that organization is party to a case.”
Such principles would surely be put to the test when former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder and his liberal gerrymandering group take GOP political maps to court as expected.
Holder’s National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC) in 2018 bragged about supporting Democrat Tony Evers in his race for governor and Dallet in her run for Supreme Court. The NDRC spent at least $140,000 on digital ads backing Dallet. Holder promised much more money, if needed.
Empower Wisconsin reached out to Dallet’s office on Thursday. The justice did not respond to questions about her thoughts on the recusal question.
A spokeswoman for Holder’s group did not respond when asked whether NDRC plans to file challenge the Republican maps in the state Supreme Court.
It has been quick to jump in elsewhere. NDRC has already filed redistricting lawsuits in Minnesota, Louisiana and Pennsylvania.
Holder blasted Republicans after they passed political maps that he described as an insult to the people of Wisconsin.
“Instead of pursuing a fair and transparent process, the manipulated maps were—just as they were a decade ago—drawn in secret with Republicans holding just one hearing designed to prevent the public from participating in their process,” Holder said in a statement. “Republicans even made it difficult for the public to submit proposed maps that recognized and protected communities of color, demanding additional onerous and unnecessary requirements for their submission.”
It’s an interesting charge from a guy who has enthusiastically supported the Democrat-gerrymandered maps drawn up by Evers’ People’s Maps Commission. The panel was criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike for violating the Voter Rights Act. A version of the People’s maps would eliminate one of Milwaukee’s Latino districts, reduce the number of African American assembly districts from six to four, and eliminate one of the two African American senate districts.
“They hoodwinked us, gaslighted us and they tricked us,” Democratic Rep. Sylvia Ortiz-Velez of Milwaukee, referring to those backing Evers’ maps, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Fatuously, Evers’ commission explained that it was creating “opportunity districts,” allowing black and hispanic voters to create coalitions with Democrats.
Democrats rejected the People’s Commission Maps, instead hastily drawing up their own — in essence doing what they complained Republicans have done.
Such discord is sure to be entered into the court record.
But none of it should matter to Justice Dallet, when Holder’s National Democratic Redistricting Committee enters the fray. Dallet doesn’t believe justices that have received significant campaign contributions from parties in cases should preside over those cases.
If the justice’s principles hold, it will be a six-member court deciding Wisconsin’s political boundaries for the next decade.