Oregon Voters Defend Compromise Congressional Map with Support of National Democratic Redistricting Committee
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Legal Brief States that Map Complies with all State Laws, Reflects Communities of Interest and Is Responsive to Public Testimony
Washington, D.C. – Today the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC) is supporting a group of voters, including a former Secretary of State of Oregon, who submitted a motion to intervene in response to the lawsuit Clarno v. Fagan, filed by Republican voters challenging Oregon’s congressional map.
The Republican voters’ lawsuit claims that the enacted map was drawn for the purpose of favoring the Democratic Party, while the NDRC-supported petition argues that the map complies with all state laws given that each congressional district in the map is contiguous of equal population, utilizes existing geographic and political boundaries, does not divide communities of interest, and is connected by transportation links.
“The enacted congressional map in Oregon is a result of political compromise between Republicans and Democrats. This map represents compromise not only because of how it was enacted — with Republicans and Democrats negotiating throughout the process — but also because it is a competitive map that is reflective of the state,” said Kelly Burton, NDRC President. “The congressional map approved accurately reflects Oregon’s communities of interest, adheres to principles of fairness, and is responsive to public testimony. The Republican petitioners’ allegations in this frivolous lawsuit are contradicted by a clear review of the map and facts, which is why the NDRC-supported intervenors are rightly urging the court to dismiss the lawsuit and affirm the adopted map.”
“The congressional map enacted by the Oregon legislature is the definition of success and compromise in every way. This map accurately reflects the will of Oregon voters and, ultimately, meets all requirements of the state’s laws,” said Jeanne Atkins, the 25th Secretary of State of Oregon. “The Oregon courts have a duty to uphold this map based on its legal merits, appropriate reflection of the state’s demographics and principles of fairness.”
According to an analysis from FiveThirtyEight, the new map contains four Democratic-leaning districts, one Republican-leaning district, and one highly competitive district. Commentators have further noted that depending on the election year, the map could even result in an evenly-split congressional delegation.
The NDRC-supported petition provides the play-by-play of the Oregon legislature’s redistricting process and explains the genesis and adoption of the compromise plan, which included Republican legislators returning to the statehouse — after breaking quorum — in order to allow a new map to pass. Additionally, the petition states that no districts in the map were drawn for the purpose of diluting the voting strength of any language or ethnic minority group or for the purpose of favoring any political party, incumbent, or other person.
State law contains several basic requirements for line drawing and forbids drawing districts “for the purpose of favoring any political party.” Under Oregon law, any Oregon voter may challenge a congressional districting plan in the weeks following its enactment, and a special judicial panel is convened to hear the case.
The petition filed today can be viewed here.