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Gerrymandering Goes to the Oregon Supreme Court
"Democrats are projected to win five of the six congressional seats”

Former Republican Secretary of State Bev Clarno and others have filed a lawsuit against current Democratic Secretary of State Shemia Fagan over the issue of partisan gerrymandering in drawing the lines for the Oregon Congressional Districts.

The suit describes how the gerrymandering found its way into the amendments offered to SB 881 durng the recent special session:

The Democrat members of the Oregon Legislative Assembly at first appeared to recognize these statutory and constitutional mandates, creating a co-equal House Redistricting Committee with three Republican and three Democrat members, so as to overcome the commonly understood tendency for a single party’s politicians to favor their own party when drawing redistricting maps.

Yet, under heavy pressure from national Democrats and Democrat Party aligned special interest groups, Oregon’s Democrat leadership broke their bipartisanship promise.

The Democrat members of the House and Senate Redistricting Committees never negotiated proposed congressional maps with their Republican committee-member counterparts.

Instead, House Democrat leaders created a new House Redistricting Committee with two Democrat members and only one Republican member, in order to ensure that the Democrats’ gerrymandered congressional map was voted out of committee.

In evidence is what many observers are calling an unnecessary move by House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) in breaking the deal to give Republicans equal representation on the redistricting committees. According to the suit, "On September 20, 2021, Speaker Kotek broke her promise to have equal representation in the House Redistricting Committee between Democrats and Republicans, so that Democrats could enact the map without Republican input."

During the 2021 regular session, Kotek cut a deal with Republicans to get them to abandon the delay tactic of requiring all bills to be read in their entirety, as required by the Oregon Constitution unless waived by a 2/3 majority -- taking hours in the case of some bills -- before being passed. In exchange for this, Kotek agreed to have a redistricting committee split equally between Democrats and Republicans. Because Democrats are in the majority in the House, they are entitled to a majority on each committee.

In a surprise move during the special session called to pass the redistricting plan, Kotek reneged on the deal and created new redistricting committees with Democratic majorities.

The suit contends that "mere days after Speaker Kotek had reneged on her promise for equal representation in the redistricting committee, the new congressional redistricting committee voted out of committee the Democrats’ gerrymandered map on a party line vote, sending the proposal to the full House."

House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) said, “Gerrymandering is cheating. Oregon Democrats want a map that protects incumbents and silences the voices of Oregonians. This challenge is an opportunity for the courts to fix the political gerrymandering and create maps that truly represent Oregon.”

Several quotes from prominent Democratic leaders are cited by the suit as a demonstration of the partisanship. It quotes Congressional Representative Kurt Schrader (D-Canby) as saying the agreement was like “shooting yourself in the head” and Congressional Representative Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield) describing the agreement as “an abysmally stupid move on her part.”

The most controversial part of the Congressional map passed by the Democrats is that it places large amounts of Portland Democrats in districts with rural Republicans, such as Polk County, and even has the City of Bend in the same district as Southeast Portland. The suit contends that "Democrats are projected to win five of the six of Oregon’s congressional seats in a typical year, results that are not even arguably justified by the Democrats’ overall political support in this State or the political geography of the State."

All of the Oregon Supreme Court Justices were appointed by Democratic Governors.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-10-11 10:27:55Last Update: 2021-10-11 22:40:57

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