The Daily Brew: Oregon enacts first congressional map after 2020 census

Welcome to the Thursday, September 30, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1.  Redistricting Roundup: Oregon becomes first state to enact congressional maps after 2020 census
  2.  How vacancies are filled on state supreme courts
  3.  Announcing Ballotpedia’s Newest Learning Journey on Agency Dynamics in Adjudication

Quick reminder: This is my last week writing the Daily Brew as I transition to a different role at Ballotpedia. My excellent team members will be taking over from here. You can expect them in your inbox at the same time each morning, but the email will be delivered from Ballotpedia instead of Dave Beaudoin. Thanks for reading! – Dave

Redistricting Roundup: Oregon becomes first state to enact congressional maps after 2020 census

Here’s a summary of the week’s noteworthy redistricting news from Oregon and Colorado:

Oregon: Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed new congressional and state legislative maps into law on Sept. 27, making Oregon the first state to enact congressional maps. If the maps are not changed by the state supreme court after any possible legal challenges, this would be the third time since 1910 that Oregon’s redistricting maps were approved by the legislature and governor without alteration.

The congressional maps were approved by the state Senate, 18-6, and the state House of Representatives, 33-16. The state legislative maps were approved by the state Senate, 18-11, and the House of Representatives, 31-18. The Oregonian stated the map created three safe Democratic seats, one safe Republican seat, one seat that leans Democratic, and one seat that is a toss-up.

​​After signing the maps, Brown said in a statement, “My office reviewed the maps contained in the bills passed by the Legislature after they were proposed this weekend. Redistricting is a process that necessarily involves compromise, and I appreciate the Legislature working to balance the various interests of all Oregonians.” Both the enacted congressional and legislative maps were amended after their initial proposal during the redistricting session.

House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R) criticized the maps, saying, “This is by no means over. The illegal congressional map adopted today, clearly drawn for partisan benefit, will not survive legal challenge. Political gerrymandering in Oregon is illegal and drawing congressional lines to ensure five out of six seats for your party long-term is gerrymandering.”

Following the 2010 census, Ohio legislators passed a revised congressional redistricting plan on Dec. 14, 2011, which Gov. John Kasich (R) signed on Dec. 15.

By this date in 2011, 19 states had finalized their congressional district maps. Seven states did not have to do congressional redistricting since they were only apportioned one congressional district

Colorado: The Colorado Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission approved a final map of the state’s congressional districts on Sept. 28. Eleven of the 12 commissioners agreed on the final vote, satisfying the group’s constitutional requirement of at least eight votes in favor, two of which must come from unaffiliated members. Of the nine proposals from which to choose, the commission ultimately selected a version of the third staff plan amended by Commissioner Martha Coleman (D).

This is the state’s first redistricting process using an independent commission after voters approved Amendment Y in 2018. That amendment also requires that the Colorado Supreme Court approve new congressional district boundaries. 

The Denver Post’s Alex Burness said that the approved map “gives comfortable advantages to each of Colorado’s seven incumbent members of Congress — Democrats Joe Neguse, Jason Crow, Diana DeGette, and Ed Perlmutter and Republicans Ken Buck, Lauren Boebert and Doug Lamborn.” Regarding the state’s new eighth district, Burness wrote, “Recent election results suggest the new 8th Congressional District will be a close race in 2022.”

Under Amendment Y, redrawn congressional districts must be competitive, which is defined as having a reasonable potential to change parties at least once every ten years. After the commission approves a final map, it is required to create a report demonstrating the extent to which districts are competitive. The legislature does not approve redrawn congressional districts and the governor cannot veto the plan. It is also not subject to the state’s veto referendum process.

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How vacancies are filled on state supreme courts

Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Cornelia Clark died on Sept. 24, creating a vacancy on the five-member supreme court.

The process for filling vacancies on state supreme courts varies by state. Under Tennessee law, midterm vacancies on the supreme court are filled via gubernatorial appointment with legislative approval. In most states, the governor appointments a replacement justice, either outright or with assistance from a nominating commission.

Here are the five primary methods used:

  1. 18 states fill vacancies on the state supreme court through direct gubernatorial appointments.
  2. 28 states fill vacancies through a gubernatorial appointment with assistance from a nominating commission.
  3. Two states—South Carolina and Virginia—fill vacancies through legislative appointments.
  4. In Illinois, the state supreme court nominates a replacement justice.
  5. In Louisiana, voters elect a replacement in a special election.

The methods that courts use to fill vacancies do not necessarily line up with how they regularly select judges. For example, only one state uses elections to fill vacancies, while 20 states use them to regularly select judges.

The most common reasons for a vacancy on a state supreme court include reaching the mandatory retirement age, retiring before the end of a term, death, or appointment to another office.

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Announcing Ballotpedia’s Newest Learning Journey on Agency Dynamics in Adjudication

Adjudication is a quasi-trial-like process that aims to resolve regulatory disputes between agencies and private parties or between two private parties. One of the primary functions of agencies is to adjudicate disputes.

This Learning Journey will walk you through how this process works as well as the main areas of contention in this space.

To learn more and sign up, click here.