Oregon lawmakers don’t have to follow redistricting law, Democratic lawmakers claim

Oregon lawmakers do not have to follow a state law which prohibits drawing political maps to benefit a specific individual because, as legislators, they have authority to override that statute, according to a new court filing by lawyers for the Democratic-controlled Legislature. 

However, this argument runs counter to top Democrat’s claims over the past 18 months that Oregon law strictly forbids state officials from gerrymandering for partisan political gain or to protect incumbents.

The state Senate or House redistricting committees are not supposed to take into account residential incumbency or voter registration when redrawing the lines. Secretary of State Shemia Fagan, could still play a role in drawing electoral lines if a court decides there is a need for lines to be fixed.

Last month, two Lane County voters asked the Oregon Supreme Court to direct the Secretary of State to redraw two new state House Districts, 8 and 12, because voters stated those districts were drawn in violation of statutory redistricting instructions—particularly in protecting an incumbent legislator.

Rep. Marty Wilde has alleged his fellow lawmakers put his Democratic precinct into a Republican district to prevent him from challenging another Democratic Senator in 2022.

To put into perspective, Florida has redistricting criteria which includes a ban on partisan gerrymandering in their constitutions. Oregon only has redistricting guidelines on Oregon’s constitution is for districts to contain equal population. If the Oregon Supreme Court agrees with Rosenblum, Gutman and Shah this could weaken Oregon’s limited protections against gerrymandering (Oregon Live). 

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