Friday, April 13, 2012

April 16 Deadline To Respond To Court On Redistricting Amended Proclamation

The Alaska Redistricting Board sent its paperwork back to Judge McConahy yesterday (Thursday) and the Judge issued a schedule today:
The Riley/Dearborn Plaintiffs and amicus curiae involved at the superior court and supreme court level in this case are given until 16 April 2012 to file objections to the Board's Notice of Compliance.  the parties and the amicus curiae shall address the following:
(1)  Whether the Board followed the Hickel process as directed by the Alaska Supreme Court?
(2) Whether deviations from the Alaska Constitution are justified by the Voting Rights Act?
(3)  Other matters that the plaintiffs and the amicus curiae feel are appropriate to address.

The board shall have until the close of business on 18 April 2012 to file its replies, if any, to the objections. 

The court will issue a scheduling order discussing the possibility of further hearings and timeliness after the briefing has been received.
You can get the whole scheduling letter here, and the complete list of court documents here.

Here's my question.  The Supreme Court said the board should start with a plan that is constitutional and then make only the least deviations necessary from that to comply with the Voting Rights Act. 

But at the trial and the appeal before the Supreme Court, the plan that paired Senators Hoffman and Stevens was used as an example of a plan that was both constitutional and complied with the VRA.  The Amended Plan has some constitutional problems with compactness, contiguity, and socio-economic integration. 

Why wouldn't the court point to the Hoffman-Stevens pairing plan and say, that meets VRA with no constitutional problems?  The Board's claim that pairing the two Senators was a fatal flaw with the VRA was questioned not only by the plaintiffs and the judges, but also by the board's VRA expert when the met to draft the new plan.  She said that pairing incumbents wasn't fatal and that it was better to pair incumbent than have low Native Voting Age Population (VAP.)   I understand that such a pairing will generate letters from Native organizations opposed to the pairing, but it was pointed out that if the district is truly an effective Native district (in the jargon of the VRA), then the Native preferred candidate would win.  Just a question I still haven't heard answered.  Maybe there's something more I don't see.

I probably should mention that the Board has been really outstanding about getting all the court related documents on their website and sending email notices to people who subscribed at their website.  It would be much harder to go find all the documentation without that assist.

And I should also mention my appreciation for the ways that the Board has made their meetings and the superior court hearing accessible by phone and internet.  These efforts on their part has made a huge difference for people who want to know what is happening. 

People who know about the Board and want to be included have great access.  It would be nice if there was a little more notice where the general public would become aware. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your excellent reporting. It would have been hard for most of us to keep up on this otherwise.

    Hey ADN ... are you reading this???


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