Colorado Congressional Redistricting court date set for October

The legal battle to determine the boundaries of Colorado’s Congressional districts (since the legislature failed to do its job, sent to the courts for the fourth consecutive decade) has been scheduled: the redistricting case will be heard by Denver District Court Chief Judge Robert Hyatt on 17 October 2011.

Despite Colorado’s clear constitutional language assigning responsibility for Congressional redistricting to the General Assembly, the state legislature again failed to pass a redistricting bill and abdicated their responsibility to the judicial branch – further politicizing the courts.

For the second consecutive decade, Colorado is treated to the sad spectacle of the state Senate majority blocking any possibility of compromise legislation and intentionally sending the issue to the courts.  The plan has apparently been in the works for at least a year – with the 2010 session closing out with the “Mary-mandering” bill (HB1408) enabling the courts to consider “non-neutral factors” such as partisan affiliation when evaluating redistricting plans.

It’s truly unfortunate that certain elements of the Democrat party leadership apparently pursued this outcome from the start – abdicating their constitutional responsibility to pass a redistricting law.

However, they may have overplayed their hand this time around; the combination of constitutional and statutory guidelines, clear case law and legal precedent, and (last not least) increased attention to the role of the judicial branch – promoting transparency and accountability to “keep ’em honest” – make it much more difficult (albeit not impossible) for the courts to pull another “mullarkey” power grab.

Additionally, the testimony of numerous Citizens from across Colorado – although falling short of convincing the legislature (particularly the state Senate) to do its job and at least attempt to pass redistricting legislation – will be of value as the courts consider the various constitutional and legal requirements for determining Congressional district boundaries.

In any event, the case (combined cases, actually) bears careful watching as it plays out in court.

Additional references:

  • 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 to educate voters and provide information of relevance related to the judicial branch, and to provide useful and substantive evaluations of judicial performance.

However, we can’t do it alone –  we need your continued support; via your comments (Sound Off!) and, yes, your contributions.  Freedom isn’t free –nor is it always easy to be a Citizen, not a subject.

Ultimately, though – it’s worth the effort.

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