Welcome to the Thursday, December 9, Brew.
By: David Luchs
Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- Washington Supreme Court accepts redistricting commission’s maps, Oregon’s maps finalized
- With vote-counting still underway, recall of Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant appears too close to call
- SCOTUS holds second week of December argument session
Washington Supreme Court accepts redistricting commission’s maps, Oregon’s maps finalized
As of Dec. 9, 17 states have adopted new congressional maps following the 2020 census and 21 states have adopted new state legislative maps. At this point in 2011, 27 states had adopted new congressional maps and 21 had adopted new state legislative maps. No states have enacted maps since Illinois adopted its congressional map on Nov. 24. Three states—Maryland, New Mexico, and South Carolina—are holding special legislative sessions this week to consider redistricting plans.
Washington: The Washington Supreme Court ruled on Dec. 3 that it would not exercise its authority to enact new congressional and legislative district boundaries despite the state Redistricting Commission’s announcement that it did not meet its Nov. 15 deadline. The Commission said that it had agreed on map plans on Nov. 16, and had submitted these plans to the Supreme Court for consideration.
In its decision, the Supreme Court wrote that “the plan adopted by the Washington State Redistricting Commission met the constitutional deadline and substantially complied with the statutory deadline to transmit the matter to the legislature. Accordingly, the Washington State Redistricting Commission shall complete any remaining tasks necessary to complete its work so that the process for finalizing the redistricting plan…may proceed.” The legislature may amend the commission’s maps by a two-thirds vote of each chamber.
Congressional and state legislative district boundaries in Washington are drawn by a five-member non-politician commission that was established by a 1983 constitutional amendment. The majority and minority leaders of both legislative chambers each appoint one registered voter to the commission, and those four commissioners appoint a fifth, non-voting member to serve as the commission’s chair.
Oregon: The Oregon Supreme Court announced that no challenges were filed to the state’s congressional map by the Nov. 29 deadline, meaning that those district boundaries will stand as enacted by the legislature. This was the third time the Oregon legislature successfully enacted a congressional redistricting map since 1910 without gubernatorial veto, court-ordered re-drawing, or authority for map drawing being passed to the secretary of state.
The Court had previously announced that it had dismissed all cases challenging the state’s legislative maps and ruled that those boundaries would stand as enacted as well. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed new congressional and legislative redistricting plans on Sept. 27.
With vote-counting still underway, recall of Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant appears too close to call
Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, first elected in 2019, faced a recall election Dec. 7. As of 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time on Dec. 8, with just over 39,000 ballots counted, support for the recall led opposition 50.3% to 49.7%. King County Elections reported that ballots had been counted from 50.6% of registered voters, with approximately 50% participation expected.
According to The Seattle Times, this was the first recall against a city council member to make the ballot in city history. Supporters of the recall said Sawant had relinquished her official authority, misused her office, disregarded COVID-related regulations, and misused city funds for electioneering. Although the Seattle City Council is officially nonpartisan, Sawant is a member of the Socialist Alternative Party.
If the recall against Sawant is approved, members of the city council will appoint a replacement member who will serve until a special election can be held in 2022.
Also Dec. 7, voters in Labette County, Kansas, approved a recall of County Commissioner Brian Kinzie (R), voting 59% to 41% in favor. Supporters of the recall said Kinzie had pursued his own personal interests during negotiations with a wind energy company looking to build turbines in the county.
So far this year, Ballotpedia has tracked 324 recall efforts against 491 officials. City council recalls made up around 25% of that total, with 80 recall efforts targeting 140 city council members. Including the recall targeting Sawant, twelve city council recall efforts took place across the 100 largest cities in the country in 2021.
SCOTUS holds second week of December argument session
From Dec. 6 to Dec. 8, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) heard arguments in the final week of the 2021-2022 term’s December sitting. The court heard arguments in person and provided audio livestreams.
This week, SCOTUS heard arguments in five cases. Click the links below to learn more about these cases:
- Patel v. Garland involved federal courts’ authority and jurisdiction to review eligibility findings in immigration appeals. The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.
- Hughes v. Northwestern University came on an appeal from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit and concerned Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) defined-contribution retirement plans.
- United States v. Taylor involved the Hobbs Act and the definition of a crime of violence. The Hobbs Act was enacted in 1946 and prohibits interference with commerce by threats or violence. The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.
- Carson v. Makin concerned public education funding, religious education, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue (2020). The case was appealed from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit.
- Shinn v. Ramirez involved the scope of evidence a federal appellate court can consider when reviewing a petition for habeas relief. Shinn originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
To date, the court has agreed to hear 50 cases this term. Four cases were dismissed, and one case was removed from the argument calendar. Nine cases have not yet been scheduled for argument.