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Idaho SupCourt issues stunner of an order on redistricting today

The Idaho Supreme Court has issued an unexpected order this afternoon on redistricting, tossing out the GOP commissioners' lawsuit and Secretary of State Ben Ysursa's lawsuit, and declaring that the court has no authority to order the redistricting commission back to work - because the commission hadn't adopted any plan the court could rule on, giving it jurisdiction. Instead, there's only the 2002 plan from the last round a decade ago, which Ysursa asked the court to declare unconstitutional in his legal challenge, because it doesn't meet one-person, one-vote requirements due to the population shifts of the last decade. He also asked them to send the commission back to work for up to 60 days, while the GOP commissioners asked the court to adopt a plan or send commissioners back to work for up to three days.

The court, in its order, says the Secretary of State can organize a new commission instead. It also sets oral arguments for Oct. 12 on the constitutionality of the 2002 redistricting plan, and permits anyone who wants to file to defend that plan as constitutional a chance to do so within the next 14 days. You can read the court's order here, and read my full story here at; click below to read the Supreme Court's just-issued news release.

For Immediate Release


September 9, 2011, 2011, 4:30 PM


The Idaho Supreme Court released an order today regarding legislative redistricting. The Court’s order found that the 2011 Commission on Legislative Reapportionment cannot be reconvened because the Commission did not adopt a plan within 90 days of its creation (see Idaho Code § 72-1501). Unlike the previous Supreme Court cases on legislative apportionment, Bingham County v. Ysursa, et. al., this year there was no plan submitted for the Court’s constitutional review. As a result of the Commission providing no reapportionment plan to the Secretary of State, the boundaries of legislative districts must revert back to the existing 2002 legislative reapportionment plan currently in existence.

The parties also requested that the Court issue a declaratory judgment in this matter (asking the Court to interpret the statutes for the parties) however, the Court has previously ruled that declaratory judgments are beyond the Court’s original jurisdictional power. (Gibson v. Ada County, 142 Idaho 746, 758).

Any parties who wish to challenge the constitutionality of the 2002 reapportionment plan (L97) must file their challenges with the Supreme Court within 14 days of today’s order. The Court will hear oral arguments on this matter on Wednesday, October 12, 2011, at 10:00 am. Any questions regarding this order should be directed to the Clerk of the Court at (208) 334-2210.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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