More reassuring in Minnesota 30 years after decision to reallocate – Minnesota Attorney

“Legislators represent people, not trees…”

Reynolds v. Sims, 377 US 533 (1964) (Warren, CJ)

The practice of gerrymandering, the arrangement of constituencies to favor one party or another, was identified as a major factor in Republicans regaining a razor-thin majority in the House of Representatives after November’s election. A key to success was winning a number of seats in upstate New York, including five seats in and around Long Island and other suburbs of New York City, which they wrested from Democratic incumbents or challengers looking for vacancies.

This came as a result of a reallocation by the state court there after a rigged card drafted by the Democrat-controlled legislature was thrown out for its apparent partisanship.

While Democrats in the Empire State may have exaggerated, gerrymandering is rife in both parties. In fact, there is an example in a case now pending in the U.S. Supreme Court, Merrill v. Milligan, No. 21-1086, in which the Supreme Court is considering a Congressional map of Alabama showing opportunities for black people make up about 25% of the state’s diluted population, win more than one of the state’s seven congressional seats, or exert influence in other districts because they are largely “packaged” into a single district. A lower court with three judges, including an appointee from former President Donald Trump and another GOP-appointed attorney (and a Bill Clinton attorney who had previously been appointed to a lower court by Ronald Reagan) initially threw out the connivance Racial problems back -prejudice reasons. Similar racially motivated gerrymandering cases are snaking, or likely soon to be, pursued in other legal forums, all targeting Republican-designed boundary maps.

The age-old practice of gerrymandering, dating back to the eponymous name of Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry (pronounced “Gary”), was deemed responsible, and by the turn of the 19th, who served as vice president in Thomas Jefferson’s second term, was a fact against the practice.

dilemma panel

The practice of gerrymandering is also not unknown in Minnesota. But the past election cycle, the 10-year county elections mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the US Constitution, proceeded smoothly and, for the first time in years, without challenge from the judicial system that has prevailed for the past century.

Litigation has been avoided in the past cycle due to the lack of a plan for a new election due to the division of legislative control between the Republicans, who had a narrow majority in the state Senate last year, and the DFL people, who had a similarly narrow majority in the House of Representatives of the districts could be mutually agreed upon. This predicament prompted the state Supreme Court to create a panel of five state judges to split seats in the Minnesota Congress and Legislature. Due to the inability of the legislature to reach agreement, the long-standing practice of court-drawn congressional legislative districts through either federal or state tribunals dating back to 1980 was continued.

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After hearings across the state, the lawyers came up with a plan that the Supreme Court accepted without controversy and put into action early last year.

Despite some quibbles, the plan was widely accepted by the two major political parties and almost everyone else. The election went smoothly, as did voting.

But that wasn’t always the case. Indeed, over the years, Minnesota has been beset with redrawing confusion caused by the US Supreme Court’s dual decisions in Baker v. Carr, 369 US 186 (1962), dealing with the re-election of districts by Congress, and his successor, Reynolds v. Sims, 377 US, 533 (1964) dealing with the determination of legal limits. In both cases, and others involving different constituencies, the principle of “one person/one vote” was introduced, which required the constituencies to be as equally populated as possible.

This mandate stems from the Equal Protections Clause of the 14th Amendment and is reminiscent of Chief Justice Earl Warren’s famous words in the Reynolds case that elected officials represent “people, not trees” or other inanimate objects or spatial configurations.

These landmark judgments only addressed population sizes, not a variety of other issues related to redistribution, such as population size. B. Gerrymandering, racial prejudice and other matters.

While these contemporary issues linger, recall that last month, Thursday February 23, to be precise, marked the 30th anniversary of the peak of this type of lawsuit, a Minnesota redistribution case that lasted until Supreme Court made . The pearl anniversary of this case provides a golden opportunity to review Minnesota’s legacy of litigation manipulation.

complicated case

The case is Growe v. Emison, 507 US 25 (1993), a tangled litigation even more complicated than most maneuver tournaments.

The case, which happened to be before the Supreme Court the day before the 1992 election, arose out of a lawsuit filed in a state court by a group of Minnesota voters alleging unconstitutional re-election of constituencies after the 1990 census , which clashed with another lawsuit brought a few of them months later by another group of manipulative challengers in federal court. The double cases were based on an equal protection of the federal and state constitutions as well as the federal electoral law.

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The emergence of the case came as the Minnesota legislature was developing a diversionary plan that was due to be completed the following January. But Gov. Rudy Perpich, a DFLer, vetoed it, leading to the state Supreme Court creating a special redistribution panel that developed its own redistribution system. The Ramsey County District Court ordered the court-drafted plan but accepted its own, while both parties created their own proposed redistribution plans.

A three-judge federal court in Minnesota — consisting of 8th Circuit Judge Donald Lay, who lived in St. Paul for a while, and two federal district court judges here, including the late Harry McLaughlin and current attorney Paul Magnuson — barred the state Procedure , 782 F.Supp. 427 (8th cir.). The panel argued that the federal court legislature card violated the Voting Rights Act by not including a “super majority” minority district for the 67-member Senate, prompting the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case to test the adequacy of the federal court to determine redistribution order. Incidentally, according to the 1980 census, the 8th Circuit had previously set the legislative and congressional boundaries in Minnesota.

After hearing the case the day before the November elections, the court issued its decision three and a half months later, on February 23, 1993, ruling in favor of the state court challengers on two grounds. It found that the federal court should have reverted to the process at the state level, which it said had the “primary duty and responsibility” of enacting the reallocation through the legislature and Congress. The federal courts must defer when a state, through its legislature or judiciary, “has begun timely consideration of district redistribution.” The court also found that there was no violation of the Voting Rights Act.

Assistant Attorney General John Tunheim, who later became and still is a US District Court judge, represented the state. The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision was authored by Justice Antonin Scalia, in line with his general tendency to honor federalism and limit judicial intervention to fundamentally state-related matters.

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But, to borrow a phrase from noted legal scholar Yogi Berra, it was déjà vu again in the next two post-census cycles as Minnesota’s redistribution was processed amid gerrymandering claims before the 8th Circuit, a pattern which was finally not asserted last year. (Incidentally, the former New York Yankees big catcher was later credited as the author of a publication beautifully titled, “I Didn’t Say All They Said I Said.”)

Rucho verdict

As a result, the federal courts are effectively barred from the reelection process, the result of two Supreme Court cases in recent years. In Gil v. Whitford, 138 S.Ct. In 1916 (2018), the judges, on valid grounds, refused to rule on a plan to redistribute the state’s counties in Wisconsin. His procedural reluctance to intervene in the district redistribution dispute was tried the following year in Rucho v. Common Cause, 139 US 2844 (2019), which essentially prohibited federal courts from ruling redistriction plans because it was impractical to devise appropriate standards or formulas to determine whether redistribution of boundaries is fair.

The Rucho ruling effectively barred the federal courts from redistribution and left open the possibility of bringing such claims in federal courts on other grounds, such as: B. racial prejudice, and to bring these matters before state courts.

On the occasion of his pearl anniversary, the case of Growe v. Emison, 30 years later, a reminder that while redistribution has become a much quieter process here in Minnesota, it’s still cropping up across the country, and when it does, it often has crucial results for electoral representation.


Other well-known namesakes

Sandwich: Named after a prodigal English lord, Earl of Sandwich, who was too busy playing cards to take a break for regular meals. Boycott: A protest named after evil mid-19th century British landowner Charles Boycott. Jim Crow: Naming Segregation Laws and Practices, named after a seedy comedic character. Freudian slip: Revealing remark mistakenly made to reflect inner feelings, named after legendary psychiatrist Sigmund Freud. Arnold Palmer: A part tea, part soda soft drink that was popular with golfers. Baby Ruth: Candy bar named after President Grover Cleveland’s daughter, not legendary baseball player Babe Ruth, according to a 1930 intellectual property lawsuit.

Marshall H. Tanick is an attorney with the Twin Cities law firm of Meyer Njus Tanick.

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