NH Supreme Court upholds House Redistricting Plan
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(CONCORD) The New Hampshire Supreme Court has upheld the Legislature’s redistricting plan for the New Hampshire House, even though lawmakers admit the plan violates the New Hampshire Constitution. Five separate groups of litigants sued the State for adopting a new legislative map that fails to give several dozen towns their own seats in the Legislature, as mandated by the New Hampshire Constitution. Supporters of the new map claim that they were forced to ignore state law in order to comply with federal one-man, one-vote requirements.
Today’s decision in Manchester V. Gardner leaves in place the 400 seats which candidates filed to run in last week. Redistricting plans for Senate, Congressional, Executive Council, and County Commissioner districts were not challenged.
The Court relies heavily on the precedent it set in Burling V. Chandler in 2002, even though voters amended the State Constitution in direct response to that controversial decision to ensure that every town with sufficient population would get its own legislative seat.
The Legislature overrode a veto from Governor John Lynch, who cited the Constitutional concerns in opposing the map.
The U.S. Supreme Court has given states broad latitude in meeting equal protection requirements, and assumes that any plan with district populations within 10% of each other is legal. New Hampshire could have adopted a plan with higher population deviations, but the House Redistricting Committee choose to stay within the 10% safe harbor. The Court concludes that the plaintiffs failed to show that the Legislature lacked a rational basis for its decisions to ignore state law in order to comply with federal guidelines.
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NH: State Supreme Court upholds House Redistricting « Watchdog News
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