BOICE, Idaho – The Idaho Supreme Court on Friday heard arguments in five separate lawsuits brought against the state’s redistribution commission, all challenging various aspects of the new US Congressional and state legislative district map.
The bipartisan Idaho Commission for Redistribution is tasked with redrawing polling districts every 10 years based on the most recent census. Idaho has been one of the fastest-growing states in the country, and commissioners investigate where growth occurred and attempt to create districts roughly equal in population with about 52,000 residents. The commission is required to map new legislative districts that have no more than 10% population variation, and should avoid dividing counties into as many districts as possible.
Former state legislator Brandon Durst was the first to file the lawsuit, arguing that the map of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts is unconstitutional because it divides counties more than necessary. Commissioners in Ada County also sued over the number of county divisions. Chubbuck resident Spencer Stuckey sued to challenge the way districts were redrawn in southeastern Idaho, and Elmore County resident Christopher Pentico sued the way congressional district maps split some local voting boundary boundaries. did, sued him.
The Coeur d’Alene tribes in northern Idaho and the Shoshone-Bannock tribes in southern Idaho also sued, each group arguing that the map incorrectly divided their respective reservations into separate districts, due to the fact regardless that they are each “communities of interest”. Keep it together as much as possible.
The tribes are the most “unique and cohesive” communities of interest in the state, their attorney Deborah Ferguson told Idaho Supreme Court justices, comparing them to members of an extended family. Ferguson said the new maps dividing the Coeur d’Alene tribe into two districts and the Shoshone-Bannock tribes into three districts continue the state’s long history of discrimination and neglect against Idaho’s early settlers.
Durst’s attorney Brian Smith told the High Court that the redistribution map was illegal because it divided eight counties “outwardly”, by taking pieces of each and combining it into a county in a separate district. Smith noted that a redistribution map created by Durst showed that districts could only be created by outwardly dividing seven counties, and state law required the commission to divide counties as little as possible. .
Lorna Jorgenson, deputy prosecuting attorney representing Adda County, raised a similar issue regarding how parts of Adda County and neighboring Canyon County — which together account for about 40% of the state’s population — became divided.
“More than 75,000 people from Ada County were moved to other surrounding counties,” Jorgensen said. “With Canyon County, more than 70,000 people were parsed into three surrounding counties.”
None of the next five largest counties in the state were externally divided, Jorgensen said.
But Megan Larondo, deputy attorney general representing the commission, said diligent and meticulous work by the commission showed that there was no way to divide the lesser counties and that there was still a map that covered all the legal requirements set forth under the state. Completes and Federal Legislation.
The commission took on the “difficult task of redistributing a state with complex geography, political boundaries, population distribution and legal requirements,” Larondo said.
The drafted maps dividing only seven counties violate other redistribution rules, such as giving residents in some areas more voting power than others, she said.
Larondo also said that the commission took public testimony from across the state, and argued that the leaders of the Coeur d’Alene tribe told the commission that keeping the tribe in a district “is not a priority.” She said that placing Shoshone-Bannock tribes in the same district violated state laws on how counties should be handled, and so the commission’s “hands were tied.”
The Idaho Supreme Court is expected to issue a written ruling in the coming weeks on whether the commission will need to redraw the maps.
Credit: www.nbcnews.com /