On December 16, 2021 two members of Idaho Native American tribes filed a petition with the Idaho Supreme Court challenging the Idaho Commission for Reapportionment's adopted legislative plan as violating the U.S. Constitution and various Idaho redistricting statutes. First, plaintiffs alleged the Commission's adopted legislative plan violated the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause because the Commission erroneously set a primary goal of the "smallest maximum deviation as possible," which led to the unjustified exclusion of state and tribal interests. Next, the plaintiffs asserted the Commission violated article III, § 5 of the Idaho Constitution by failing to adopt a final plan that both complied with the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause and which resulted in fewer county divisions (as opposed to eight county splits in the adopted plan). Finally, they alleged the Commission violated Idaho Code § 72-1506(2) by failing to adequately consider the Tribes' longstanding communities of interest prior to adopting its final plan. Plaintiffs sought a judicial declaration that the adopted plan was unconstitutional because it unnecessarily divided too many counties, a writ of prohibition barring the Secretary of State from transmitting the Commission's final report to state legislative leaders, and for the court to remand the plan back to the Commission to review and correct the constitutional and statutory violations therein. On December 17, 2021 this case was consolidated with three other pending challenges to Idaho's adopted legislative plans.
On January 27, 2022 the Idaho Supreme Court issued its opinion upholding the commission's final legislative plan as valid. The Court first reinterpreted article III, § 5 in the context of Idaho's modern redistricting process as imposing a "reasonably determined" standard on the commission's determinations as to which counties must be divided to comply with the U.S. Constitution's equal population requirements. The Court found the adopted plan met this standard on the grounds the commission's report adequately explained how the adopted plan better achieved equal population goals than the alternative plans before it, particularly its finding that the alternative plans underpopulated northern Idaho at the expense of the rest of the state and only achieved a "presumptively constitutional maximum population deviation" using "arbitrary boundary lines." Finally, the Court held the plan also complied with the redistricting criteria provided in Idaho Code § 72-1506, finding the commission's balancing of these considerations to be reasonable.
For all of the filings in this case, see the litigation page for Durst v. Idaho Comm'n for Reapportionment.
Similar Case: Pentico v. Idaho Comm'n for Reapportionment
Idaho Supreme Court - No. 49353-2021 [together with Nos. 49621-2021, 49267-2021, & 49295-2021]