State of Alaska

Alaska Legislative Redistricting Challenge (Matanuska-Susitna Borough)

Matanuska-Susitna Borough v. Alaska Redistricting Board

Lawsuit brought by Matanuska-Susitna Borough and a voter challenging Alaska’s state House districts drawn with 2020 census data. The plaintiffs claim that the maps, approved by the Alaska Redistricting Board, do not properly represent the borough’s population growth over the past decade and violate the Alaska and U.S. Constitutions. The lawsuit argues that every state House district within the borough is overpopulated as compared to the rest of Alaska’s House districts and therefore the votes of Matanuska-Susitna Borough are diluted. The lawsuit asks the court to declare the map invalid and order the creation of a new state House district map. The case was consolidated with four other lawsuits challenging the new legislative districts. After a trial was held, the court determined that there were deficiencies with the new legislative map, including that certain distinct communities were unnecessarily grouped together and the Board did not follow public testimony and hearing guidelines in violation of the Alaska Constitution, and remanded it to the Board to address the issues. Four of the parties appealed this decision to the Alaska Supreme Court, which affirmed the lower court’s decision in part and reversed the conclusion regarding three state House districts. The cases were remanded back to the trial court for further proceedings.

Upon remand, the trial court ordered the Alaska Redistricting Board to submit an amended redistricting plan in compliance with the state Supreme Court’s order. The board’s amended plan was subsequently challenged by the plaintiffs. Specifically, the Girdwood plaintiffs alleged that the board’s amended plan violated Alaskans’ right to equal protection and redistricting criteria under the Alaska Constitution. The Superior Court ultimately agreed with the plaintiffs that the board’s amended plan was an “unconstitutional political gerrymander” and ordered the board to adopt a second amended plan as an interim map for the 2022 election cycle. The board appealed the Superior Court’s decision to the state Supreme Court, which affirmed the Superior Court’s decision. The second amended plan is in place as an interim plan for the state’s 2022 legislative elections.

On April 21, 2023, the Alaska Supreme Court issued a full opinion holding that partisan gerrymandering violates the state constitution. Following this decision, the trial court will oversee further proceedings by the Board, which has  90 days to decide whether to adopt the interim plan that was used in the 2022 elections as a final plan or to alternatively devise a new plan. On May 15, 2023, Board unanimously adopted the interim 2022 plan as the final 2023 plan.

Case Documents (trial court)

Case Documents (AK Supreme Court)

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