Midweek Update: more media coverage of Redistricting battle
Since publishing an article (”Redistricting versus Reapportionment – the confusion continues“) some two weeks ago clarifying the different constitutional constraints and processes for drawing up Colorado’s Congressional and state legislative district boundaries, Clear The Bench Colorado has received renewed interest and feedback from multiple sources concerning the ongoing developments in each area (including gubernatorial and legislative appointments to the Reapportionment Commission) and the role of the courts in ultimately deciding our Congressional and state legislative district boundaries.
An additional article (“More discussion on Colorado Congressional Redistricting and state legislative reapportionment“) further discussed key terms and concepts relating to how Congressional and state legislative boundaries are determined.
Importantly, Congressional Redistricting is a mostly political process that we (as Citizens, via our elected representatives) have the MOST opportunity to influence – directly through voting to gain majorities in the General Assembly, influencing the vote and/or draft maps, and (currently) via the public arena by weighing in on the discussion to help shape public opinion (and provide electoral pressure).
As the legislative session draws near to a close, the deadline for our elected representatives to carry out their constitutionally-mandated duty to re-draw Congressional district boundaries (Colorado Constitution Article V, Section 44) is down to the final week (the session must end by midnight, 11 May 2011). In a colossal game of “chicken”, however, it appears that one side appears determined to send the issue to the courts, not as a response to an impasse in negotiations, but as the planned approach all along.
Around the state, media coverage of the Redistricting battle has noted – and almost universally condemns – the likelihood of the Congressional district maps being decided by the courts.
Last Friday’s Glenwood Springs Post-Independent editorial (“Keep Western Slope interests intact by preserving 3rd District“) noted:
It seems a matter of common sense that the 3rd District, historically configured as a predominantly Western Slope district, should be largely preserved under redistricting, Garfield County included.
This issue now looks to be headed to the Colorado Supreme Court for resolution, if it can’t be worked out across the wide partisan divide of the full state Legislature. …
Redistricting is not about protecting the interests of one political party or the other. It’s about keeping communities of common interest and geographical regions together in a congressional district where these interests are likely to be best represented.
Monday’s Fort Morgan Times weighed in from the 4th Congressional District, also threatened with being split in half (“Redistricting lacks bipartisan map for Congress“):
Committee Republicans have said that their best chances of getting a fair map would have come through negotiations within the redistricting committee, asserting that Democrats control the Senate, governor’s mansion and the Colorado Supreme Court. That body rejected a Republican map rushed through the General Assembly in the last three days of the 2003 session and instead ordered the state to adopt one drawn by a Denver District Court judge the previous year.
A Boulder Daily Camera editorial last week (“Drawing a fair Congressional map should not be about seat numbers“) decried both the idea of sending it to the courts and the false premise of “competitiveness” as a basis for drawing district boundaries:
The Democrats and Republicans on the committee unveiled about a dozen maps and have been picking those apart ever since, less “kumbaya” and more “the last time we did this, the Colorado Supreme Court had to intervene.”
Colorado’s Congressional Redistricting battle even made national news, with this Washington Post article: “Colorado deadlocks on redistricting, with plenty at stake”
The Denver Post alone ran about a half-dozen articles on Congressional Redistricting over the last week:
- Wednesay, 4/27/11: “Easy as pie? Bipartisan failure on redistricting“
- Thursday, 4/28/11: “Colorado Dems unveil new redistricting bill“
- Friday, 4/29/11: “GOP calls Democrats’ new Colorado redistricting bill unacceptable“
- Monday, 5/2/11: “Gerrymandering by any other name“
- Tuesday, 5/3/11: “Colorado Republicans unveil compromise redistricting map“
- Wednesday, 5/4/11: “Public asked, again, to weigh in on Congress maps”
- “Democrats and Republicans are both inviting Colorado voters to the state Capitol on Thursday to weigh in on new proposals to redraw the state’s seven congressional districts.”
Clear The Bench Colorado urges Colorado citizens to take advantage of what may be a final opportunity to weigh in on how – and whether – the Colorado General Assembly exercises its constitutional duty (it IS the responsibility of the General Assembly – and no other body or branch of government, according to our state Constitution (Article V, Section 44) – to do the job. Citizens can sign up to testify at the Congressional Redistricting Committee hearing scheduled for 2:00 p.m., Thursday, May 5, in House Committee Room 112 at the Colorado Capitol.
- Constitutional Provisions Controlling Reapportionment/Redistricting (official Colorado state website, which collates relevant constitutional language on Congressional redistricting and state legislative reapportionment)
- Redistricting in Colorado (Ballotpedia site – although the site contains several errors, some of which are being corrected, it does provide useful context and historical background on past restricting battles. As with any Wiki site – contributions come from a variety of sources and are frequently edited – proceed with some skepticism)
Clear The Bench Colorado will, with your support, continue to promote transparency and accountability in the Colorado judiciary, informing the public to increase awareness of the substantial public policy implications of an unrestrained activism and political agendas in the courts. We will continue to work with legislators and others interested in reforming the systemic shortcomings of Colorado’s “merit selection & retention” system to increase transparency and accountability to the public, and to provide useful evaluations of judicial performance.
Ultimately, though – it’s worth the effort.