Supreme Court of Idaho Consolidates Redistribution Card Lawsuits | Politics


KEITH RIDLER Associated Press

BOISE – Two lawsuits against the Idaho Redistribution Commission over a new map redrawing the state’s 35 legislative districts have been consolidated into one lawsuit.

The Idaho Supreme Court, in an order dated Tuesday, said it had granted the commission’s request to combine the prosecution. The two lawsuits each claim that the map is unconstitutional because it divides more counties than necessary. The court said none of the parties to the lawsuit had objected to their reunification.

The six-person redistribution commission earlier this month approved the map redrawing Idaho’s 35 legislative districts from which voters will select the state’s 105 lawmakers over the next 10 years.

Former lawmaker Brandon Durst filed his lawsuit the same week the commission approved the card. Ada County Commissioners filed their complaint last week.

The court ordered County Commissioners Durst and County Ada to file their opening briefs no later than 5 p.m. Thursday, and that the Redistribution Commission respond by 5 p.m. on December 16. Oral pleadings are scheduled for January.

The new legislative constituencies will be used for next year’s elections, including the Republican and Democratic primaries on May 17, and then the general election in November.

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The commission was tasked with redesigning neighborhoods based on the population counted in the 2020 census. Idaho is one of the fastest growing states in the country. In several meetings, the commissioners considered where the growth had occurred and said they had tried to create districts roughly equal in population, with about 52,000 inhabitants each.

The commission is required to map new legislative districts that have no more than a 10% population gap, and they are supposed to avoid dividing counties into multiple districts as much as possible. Still, there’s no way to avoid dividing some of Idaho’s 44 counties into different districts.

The map on which the redistribution commission drew up divides eight counties, including Ada County.

On the map, three portions of Ada County have been divided and each portion has been joined to Gem, Canyon or Owyhee County. Other heavily populated counties were also divided, including Kootenai and Canyon counties.

Ada County commissioners want the Idaho Supreme Court to order the redistribution commission to revise the map to reduce the number of divisions.

“This analysis of Ada County to achieve an ideal district size is constitutionally prohibited,” the commissioners wrote in their complaint.

Durst – who is running for Idaho’s Superintendent of Public Education as a Republican – has filed a lawsuit against the division of some counties. He wants the Idaho Supreme Court to order the commission to use a different card or come up with a new one.

Redistribution lawsuits are common, with at least 10 cases filed in the last four redistribution attempts dating back to 1981.

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