Colorado Reapportionment Commission rams through post-deadline Democrat maps, bars amendments or Minority Report
The Colorado Reapportionment Commission (charged with drawing our state legislative districts) rammed through a pair of Democrat-proposed maps for state legislative districts today on a party-line vote (6-5, with officially unaffiliated Chairman Mario Carrera joining the commission’s other Democrats).
- House Map: House Resubmitted Plan Fv1
- Senate Map: Senate Resubmitted Plan Ev1
- Google Earth maps (requires Google Earth download): House Resubmitted Plan (download zip file), Senate Resubmitted Plan (download zip file)
Despite the fact that the maps, submitted at 10PM on Sunday before Monday’s 11AM meeting to discuss revised map proposals, were submitted after the commission’s self-imposed Wednesday deadline for new submissions, the commission also voted 6-5 to close debate and discussion, bar any amendments, and suppress a Minority Report including an alternative map that better met constitutional criteria (further reducing the number of city and county splits).
The commission process in these final days has been a sham.
The unseemly haste of the commission’s majority to ram through these highly partisan revised maps (introduced at the 11th hour, with no opportunity for public review or comment) in back-to-back meetings of the commission without discussion, debate, or opportunity for amendment is a shameful chapter in the decennial circus that has characterized the determination of Colorado’s state legislative district boundaries.
As Commissioner Rob Witwer noted, “we’re under obligation – in compliance with the state Constitution and the court order to at least consider a map with fewer county splits.”
Commissioner Gayle Berry (the commission’s lone Western Slope representative) noted that even with the short notice, she’d received “LOTS of input” from people on the Western Slope about the Fv1 House map – “and they are NOT happy” (particularly with the split of Gunnison County).
Commissioner Mario Nicolais was particularly scathing in his indictment of the Fv1 House map, and of the short-circuited process in moving quickly to a vote without allowing discussion or amendments:
This is a politically vindictive map – this places GOP leadership at risk [pairing incumbents]
You want to subvert our state constitution to a matter of procedure… You can roll your eyes at me again, if you wish (to Atencio), but this map is out there – we have seen it, as a commission.
The vote on the Senate maps also proceeded without alternatives, discussion, or debate – passing on a 6-5 party-line vote.
Commissioner Gayle Berry added the following comment to her vote:
Unlike the sentiment expressed earlier by my colleagues, I hope we ARE the 1st commission to be remanded twice. I have concerns about the constitutionality of this map, and my vote is No.
Finally, Commissioner Dolores Atencio introduced a motion to suppress the inclusion of a “Minority Report” with the commission’s submission of the maps to the Colorado Supreme Court for review.
Again, Commissioner Mario Nicolais was scathing in his reply:
I don’t understand why we want to limit what the Court sees; the Court can consider other maps.
If this is just a cover-up, I think you’re going to fail miserably. Personally, I don’t think the Court will go on [the commission's rules of] procedure and gut the Constitution.
The commission has all but guaranteed additional legal challenges to the maps approved in today’s narrow (and partisan) vote. The commission’s attorneys will definitely require all of the intervening period (cited by Commissioner Atencio as additional justification for rushing the process) to prepare for written and oral arguments before the Colorado Supreme Court, which may take a dim view of the commission’s perversion of the court’s intent in remanding the commission’s map the previous time.
Particularly given the more centrist makeup of the current Colorado Supreme Court (following the departure of former Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey and the more recent resignation of Justice Alex Martinez, replaced with Justices Monica Marquez and Brian Boatright, who just assumed his seat last week), the commission’s approval of a set of legislative maps seemingly designed “out of spite” and “calculated to antagonize the court” may succeed in making history.
- Additional information is also available on the Reapportionment Commission website.
- Constitutional Provisions Controlling Reapportionment/Redistricting (state website listing relevant legal language on Congressional redistricting & state legislative reapportionment)
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.
Ultimately, though – it’s worth the effort.