WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Oregon Supreme Court dismissed two cases challenging the validity of Oregon’s newly passed legislative districts, finding that neither petition had proven that the maps violate the Oregon Constitution. This decision means that the state’s Senate and House maps will remain in place. This is the first legal decision regarding new maps enacted following the release of 2020 census data and a blow to Republicans who had challenged the maps hoping to get them thrown out.
The court rejected the arguments put forth by Republicans in Sheehan v. Oregon Legislative Assembly and Calderwood v. Oregon Legislative Assembly that the state’s new legislative maps were partisan gerrymanders that favored Democrats. In Sheehan, the petitioners argued that the Legislative Assembly allegedly ignored public input on the maps by failing to hold in-person hearings (remote hearings were held due to COVID-19 concerns) and drew legislative districts to favor Democrats. The court rejected the assertion that in-person hearings were required by the state constitution as well as the argument that the map was drawn with partisan intent, holding that those “arguments are unpersuasive, largely because they rely on debatable and unsubstantiated assumptions about the reasons underlying the Legislative Assembly’s actions.” In Calderwood, the petitioners argued that two House districts violated the Oregon Constitution because they were drawn with partisan intent to favor Democrats and ignored other redistricting criteria. The court disagreed with these claims, holding that the Legislative Assembly took reasonable steps to ensure redistricting criteria was met and there were “logical reasons” to draw the two districts how they were passed that were unrelated to partisan outcomes.