In one of my first forays into Oregon politics, I had the honor of working for then State Representative Steve March, a freshman Democrat in the 2001 Legislative Session. March is widely considered one of Oregon’s few redistricting experts and working with him piqued my interested in the process. As a logistical staffer, I later traveled the state with Secretary of State Bill Bradbury as he worked to finalize his redistricting plan.
To be clear here, we’re talking about redistricting state legislative boundaries. Reapportionment is when the number of Congressional seats shifts from state to state after the Census. The legislature is also tasked with redistricting Oregon’s Congressional Districts but that’s a process that seemingly always ends up getting settled in court anyhow in Oregon.
Redistricting makes sure that voters in political districts have equal representation. If the legislature can’t complete the process for state legislative districts in 6 months, the duty falls to the Secretary of State with final by the Oregon Supreme Court.
In 2001, Governor John Kitzhaber vetoed the Republicans' excessively partisan redistricting plan. In response, the House leadership attempted to pass a simple resolution to make it happen, prompting House Democratic Leader Dan Gardner to re-teach civics to his colleagues on how an idea becomes a law . In any event, the legislature failed to pass a redistricting plan within the legal deadline, bucking the role over to the Secretary of State’s office.
So because it hasn't worked in their favor, conservatives want to get rid of the longstanding existing process and have the judges directly change statute? Isn’t that the type of behavior they lambast as an “activist” judiciary?
Is the process perfect as it stands? Likely not. Do I trust the right wing fringe teabaggers to improve it? Heck no. The Oregonian sure trusts them. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the new publisher.