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Judicial panel upholds Oregon redistricting plan, finds no evidence of gerrymandering by Democrats

A special judicial panel upheld Oregon’s congressional redistricting plan on Wednesday, shutting down an effort by Republicans to overturn the plan drawn by Democrats in a September special session of the state Assembly.

(CN) — A special judicial panel upheld Oregon’s congressional redistricting plan on Wednesday, shutting down an effort by Republicans to overturn the plan drawn by Democrats in a September special session of the state Assembly.

In a unanimous opinion, the five-judge panel dismissed the petition, finding all legal requirements were met and also finding no evidence of gerrymandering.

“Ultimately, the extensive record in this case establishes that, far from being motivated by partisan purpose, the Legislative Assembly drew the enacted map based on public input and neutral criteria — resulting in a fair map that was not drawn for a partisan purpose,” the opinion states.

Republicans argued the new congressional map will leave them at a disadvantage as four of Oregon’s six congressional districts lean blue. The state picked up an additional congressional district following the 2020 Census, which showed an uptick in the state’s population. 

The Republicans had argued splitting Portland into four congressional districts constituted gerrymandering, something the panel did not agree with.

“Petitioners do not explain how the small and diminutive shares of Portland voters within other districts constitutes gerrymandering or would make a difference in elections,” the opinion stated. “Far from reflecting a partisan purpose, the enacted map’s treatment of the Portland area — and the state as a whole — is consistent with prior maps adopted with both judicial imprimatur and bipartisan support.” 

In light of Wednesday’s opinion, the GOP can still appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.

“This gerrymandered congressional redistricting map is an incumbent protection plan that Democrats desperately fought to keep,” House Minority Leader Christine Drazan said in a statement. “Rather than serve the interests of Oregonians, they have served themselves. This is why we need an independent redistricting commission to take this job away from politicians.”

“The Legislature has done its job,” said Senate President Peter Courtney in a statement. “I’m glad that our product was taken to the courts. This map went through a very thorough and objective review. A panel of judges found the work we’ve done has followed the law. I think the Legislature can say we did very well.”

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