Congressional redistricting passes to Connecticut Supreme court after commission misses extended deadline

On Dec. 21, the Connecticut Supreme Court assumed control over the state’s congressional redistricting process after the Connecticut Reapportionment Commission announced it did not complete congressional maps before its noon deadline. The court has until Feb. 15, 2022, to approve new maps for the state’s five congressional districts.

This is the second time the commission—made up of four Democratic and four Republican lawmakers—missed its congressional redistricting deadline during the 2020 redistricting cycle.

The first deadline was Nov. 30, at which point the commission was required to have completed state legislative and congressional redistricting. The commission enacted state House and Senate maps on Nov. 18 and Nov. 23, respectively. After missing the Nov. 30 deadline for congressional redistricting, the supreme court assumed authority. The commission then petitioned for an extension to Dec. 21 which the court granted on Dec. 9.

Earlier, the commission publicly acknowledged that it would not meet the Nov. 30 deadline to finish congressional redistricting, citing delays due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This time, commissioners cited national political pressures for the delay but said their differences remained relatively minor and technical. House Speaker Matt Ritter (D) said, “The emotional nature of this, the intensity … I believe it has made it really hard for us to do our jobs here and it’s not for lack of effort.”

The state supreme court will likely appoint a special master. The commission was initially tasked with naming potential appointees to that position but did not agree on three names. Democratic commissioners have indicated they would support Nathaniel Persily, a law professor who served as a special master in 2011. Republican commissioners said they would like two special masters, one from each party. The supreme court, whose seven members were appointed by Democratic governors, will ultimately decide.

The Connecticut General Assembly is responsible for redistricting every cycle but has not produced new maps since 1981. In 1991, 2001, 2011, and 2021, the legislature missed its mid-September deadline to enact maps, passing authority to the commission in each cycle. The commission itself has missed its Nov. 30 deadline three decades in a row: 2001, 2011, and 2021. In all three cycles, the supreme court granted a Dec. 21 extension. The commission adopted maps before the extended deadline in 2001 but missed the extension in 2011 and 2021.

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