Oregon Court Upholds Congressional Map

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, an Oregon state court panel unanimously upheld the state’s newly enacted congressional map, rejecting a challenge brought by Republicans seeking to throw out the map. The court denied the Republicans’ arguments that the map was a partisan gerrymander that favored Democrats, holding 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.” Earlier this week, the court similarly rejected Republican challenges to the state legislative maps, upholding the maps after finding that they complied with traditional redistricting criteria and were not drawn with partisan intent to favor Democrats, as the Republicans had tried to argue.

Four Republican former elected officials filed the lawsuit in October following the passage of the state’s six newly configured congressional districts. A group of Democratic voters intervened in the case to defend the map. In its unanimous opinion today, the court wrote that the new districts “reflect and build upon previous maps drawn by a variety of mapmakers, while taking into account demographic changes over the last decade and the population growth that necessitated adding a district.” The court adopted the findings of the court-appointed special master, who had previously analyzed all the court documents and expert materials and concluded that the congressional map incorporated all necessary redistricting criteria (the districts are contiguous, consist of nearly equal populations, follow geographic and political boundaries, are connected by transportation links, don’t unnecessarily divide communities of interest and map drawers appropriately incorporated feedback from Oregonians). Furthermore, the court agreed with the special master that the map does not show a “statistically significant bias toward either party,” shutting down the Republicans’ unsupported claims that Democratic map drawers favored their party during the process. The court held that there were logical reasons that the districts were drawn in the manner they were, admonishing that the Republican petitioners “hinge much of their case on what they view as compelling evidence of the Legislative Assembly’s unlawful partisan purpose but their arguments suffer from numerous legal and factual deficiencies.” The case is dismissed with prejudice.

Read the opinion here.