Panel Of Judges Reject Republican Gerrymandering Attempt

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A panel of judges in Oregon meant to hear cases related to the state’s redistricting process has rejected a lawsuit from Republican challengers over the U.S. House district map in the state. Those challengers had alleged that the map unfairly favors Democrats, but the judges concluded — unanimously — that such was not the case. The map includes six House seats, two of which “are expected to be safely Democratic” while two of them are slated to “lean in Democrats’ favor,” as explained by Oregon Public Broadcasting. As for the last two, one is heavily Republican, while another seems to be a toss-up.

The panel of judges pointedly observed that “the extensive record in this case establishes that, far from being motivated by partisan purpose, the Legislative Assembly drew the enacted map based on public input and neutral criteria—resulting in a fair map that was not drawn for a partisan purpose.”

The four plaintiffs in the case include former Oregon Republican Secretary of State Bev Clarno, and the plaintiffs collectively have the opportunity to appeal the case to the Oregon state Supreme Court — although that court rejected a separate pair of challenges to the state’s legislative districts just this week. Those cases included Sheehan v. Oregon Legislative Assembly and Calderwood v. Oregon Legislative Assembly, and in the Sheehan case, the court wrote that arguments claiming that the lines in question unfairly favored Democrats were “unpersuasive, largely because they rely on debatable and unsubstantiated assumptions about the reasons underlying the Legislative Assembly’s actions.”

Elsewhere in the country, Republicans in positions of state-level power have put legislative district maps in place that favor their own side. In Ohio, for instance, Republican Governor Mike DeWine recently signed a set of House district lines into law that give Republicans control of 80 percent of the state’s seats, although Trump won the state with a much slimmer majority in 2020 — meaning that the lines seemingly fail to proportionately capture the actual political distribution of the population. The same lines also particularly impede Black voters. For instance, suburbs of the city of Cincinnati — where a sizable Black population resides — were cordoned off from the city itself and tacked onto a largely white, Republican district.