Oregon Redistricting Cases: the 1990's

Ater v. Keisling, 312 Or. 207, 819 P.2d 296 (1991), consol. with Bugas v. Keisling and Paulk v. Keisling

The Oregon Constitution requires the Secretary of State to prepare a state legislative redistricting plan if the Legislature fails to enact a plan by July 1 of the year following the census. The 1991 Oregon Legislature did not enact a plan by the deadline; therefore, the Secretary did so and filed the plan with the Oregon Supreme Court in August 1991.  Five petitioners challenged the Secretary of State's plan. The Oregon Supreme Court consolidated the cases for review.  In dismissing three of the petitions, the Court held that: (1) the Secretary's decision to adopt a plus-or-minus one percent deviation standard was not irrational or contrary to the redistricting provisions of the Oregon Constitution; and (2) the Secretary's adoption of the deviation standard did not show that the Secretary failed to give consideration to other statutory redistricting criteria.  Two petitions alleged technical errors in the Secretary's plan. The Secretary conceded that some census blocks were assigned to districts to which they were not contiguous due to errors made by the United States Census Bureau and due to errors in the Secretary's computer program. The Court voided the Secretary's plan and directed the Secretary to submit a corrected redistricting plan to the Court on or before December 1, 1991.

Linder v. Keisling, 312 Or. 316, 821 P.2d 1089 (1991)

In Ater, the Oregon Supreme Court had directed the Oregon Secretary of State to make corrections in the Secretary's state legislative redistricting plan. The Secretary of State made corrections in the plan and filed the corrected plan with the Oregon Supreme Court on November 18, 1991. The Court noted that the corrections described in Ater had been made and approved the redistricting plan. The plan became operative on December 15, 1991.

Berkman v. RobertsNo. 91-775 RE (D. Ore. 1991)

The 1991 Oregon Legislature did not enact a congressional redistricting plan before it adjourned. Following adjournment of the Legislature, a special joint legislative committee drafted a congressional redistricting plan. However, the Legislature was not called into special session (either by the Governor or by a majority of both houses) to consider adoption of the plan. Therefore, in December 1991, the Federal District Court in Portland adopted the congressional redistricting plan drafted by the special legislative committee.

Republican Party of Oregon v. Keisling959 F.2d 144 (9th Cir. 1992), cert. denied, 504 U.S. 914 (1992).

The Oregon Constitution requires the Secretary of State to prepare a state legislative redistricting plan if the Legislature fails to enact a plan by July 1 of the year following the census. The 1991 Oregon Legislature did not enact a plan by the deadline; therefore, the Secretary did so and filed the plan with the Oregon Supreme Court in August 1991. The Court approved the plan in December 1991. The Secretary's plan assigned incumbent State Senators to newly drawn districts. The Oregon Legislature has 30 Senators, one-half of whom are elected every two years. As a result of the assignment of incumbent Senators to new districts, some voters who were formerly represented by Senators whose terms were to expire in January 1993 wound up being represented by Senators whose terms would not expire until January 1995. Therefore, those voters would have to wait six years to vote for a Senator instead of four years like most other voters. The Oregon Republican Party contended that requiring these voters to wait an additional two years for their next vote violated the First Amendment rights of the affected voters.  The Ninth Circuit Court rejected the Republican Party's challenge and held that: (1) there is no First Amendment right to vote for State Representatives on a particular schedule; and (2) in the context of reapportionment, a temporary dilution of voting power (resulting from having to wait six years instead of four years to vote) that does not unduly burden a particular group does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.


 State Contact
 
Janet Adkins 
Oregon Legislature 
State Capitol, Room 453 
Salem, OR 97310-1347 
503/986-1621 voice 
503/986-1814 fax 
Janet.K.Adkins@state.or.us 
Ted Reutlinger 
Legislative Counsel 
S-101, State Capitol 
Salem, OR 97310-1347 
503/986-1243 voice