WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Oregon Supreme Court ruled on Friday to extend the deadline for the state’s Legislature to produce a new district map before the Oregon secretary of state takes control of the process. The case is a preview of how a delayed census will affect the redistricting process in 2021. In the state constitution, the deadline for new maps to be drawn is July 1. But with federal census data not expected to be sent to the states until late spring, the Oregon Supreme Court extended the deadline for legislators to decide on a map to Sept. 27, after which the secretary of state will take over the process if no agreement is met.
The court responded to the secretary of state’s concerns that missing the July 1 deadline would delay the administration of the 2022 election by referring to the unexpected circumstances of 2020’s census collection. In the majority opinion, Chief Justice Martha Walters said that, despite the delay in results, there was no reason to believe voters cared more about meeting the deadline than they did following the constitutional process of map-drawing where the Legislature gets to have the first pass. Democrats in the legislature said of the decision that the “Supreme Court has done its job. Now it’s time for the Legislature to do its constitutional duty: to redraw the district boundaries for the state of Oregon in a way that’s fair and accurate. We have full faith in the legislative redistricting committees to lead this work.”