Colorado Supreme Court Strikes Down Mid-Decade Redistricting

Yahoo! News – Court Says Redistricting Unconstitutional

DENVER – In a decision that could have national implications, the Colorado Supreme Court threw out the state's new congressional districts Monday because the GOP-led Legislature redrew the maps in violation of the constitution.

The General Assembly is required to redraw the maps only after each census and before the ensuing general election — not at any other time, the court said in a closely watched decision. A similar court battle is being waged in Texas.

Under the ruling, Colorado's seven congressional districts revert to boundaries drawn up by a Denver judge last year after lawmakers failed to agree.

The issue before the court was whether the redistricting map pushed through the Legislature by Republicans this year was illegal. Colorado's constitution calls for redistricting only once a decade and Democrats contended the task was completed by the judge.

I look forward to reading this decision. I'm more than prepared to believe that there may be state Constitutional law issues here; but much as I think mid-term redistricting is despicable, it will take something substantial to convince me that there is a federal constitutional law violation here. (Although I can imagine what some of those arguments might look like.)

The relevant constitutional text reads, “The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.”

That text suggests Congress may have control here — and perhaps in the face of a long tradition of decenial redistricting, its authorization is needed for more frequent changes? Which means I need to find the relevant legislation…

As should be clear from this rambling, this is not a clause I've ever thought deeply about. It's not the clearest either, so I am persuadable. The Colorado case doesn't seem to be online yet though, and I think I'll put off research until I read it.

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