The Alaska Supreme Court has moved the hearing up to Thursday May 10, 2012 at 10 am (originally 9:30, then moved to 10.)
The focus is on the Interim Plan - the plan to be in place until the final plan can be cleared for compliance with the Voting Rights Act AND the Alaska constitution.
The Board created an Amended Proclamation Plan (the original plan was rejected by the Supreme Court) and an Interim Plan.
The interesting part of the Court’s order is that they are asking the parties to argue why the Amended Proclamation Plan (not the Interim Plan) should not be used as the Interim Plan. I haven’t had much time to mull this over. A couple consequences I can think of immediately are:
- The Aleutians would be back in one district instead of two
- If the Amended Proclamation Plan is then approved as the final plan, there would be no need to make changes to any districts after the November 2012 election. There would be less disruption.
The Board's been pretty good about getting court documents posted so I expect the court order should be up soon.
Given there will be four days to meet the Division of Elections' May 14 deadline (which, could, theoretically be delayed by a court order), my guess is the Supreme Court would like to make a decision pretty quickly and right now the leading candidate would be the Court's choice of the Amended Proclamation Plan. Unless there are really good arguments raised against that option. And I have heard that various parties are working hard to get their briefs in by tomorrow' (May 8) deadline.
Here's part of the Order:
The parties involved will be the Redistricting Board and those who have been involved with the case in court already, plus anyone else who petitions the court in advance and gets approval.
"Each side" has an hour. Is this the whole enchilada for both the interim and final plan in one hearing? Or will there be another hearing later for the finalized Proclamation Plan? Has the Supreme Court decided to try to squeeze both decisions together under this expedited schedule? If so, it would seem to mean that they weren't excited about Judge McConahy's ruling sending the Plan back to the board to show that all districts were constitutional. And what about his argument that the Board needed to rework Southeast Alaska? Now it would appear it is up to the other parties to make their arguments about any districts they think are still unconstitutional. It would also appear that this is a victory for Board attorney Michael White who argued against having to come up with justification for each district's constitutionality. But, I'm not an attorney and I'm sure there is a lot here that I'm missing or misreading.
What are the practical political implications on the elections in November? My understanding is that both the Amended Proclamation Plan and the Interim plan would have similar consequences to a few sitting legislators.
- Democratic Senator Joe Thomas would be in the same district as Republican Senator John Coghill. (Fairbanks)
- Democratic Senator Al Kookesh would be in the same district as
Democratic[whoops, Republican] Senator Bert Stedman. (Southeast)
- Anchorage Democratic Senator Bettye Davis would have half of her district shifted to Eagle River where it is said Rep. Anna Fairclough will oppose her for the Senate seat. (Anchorage)
- Democratic Rep. David Guttenberg would be in the same district as Republican Rep. Alan Dick. (Fairbanks/Interior)
- Democratic Anchorage Reps. Doogan and Tuck would have been in the same district, but Doogan has announced his retirement. (Anchorage)
- Southeast Republican Rep. Peggy Wilson would be in the same district as Rep. Kyle Johansen.
My sense is that the Republicans think they will win most of the contests and that Democrats aren't ceding any of these, though some will be harder to keep than others.