CASE SUMMARY

On October 25, 2021, two Oregon voters filed a petition with the Oregon Supreme Court challenging the Legislative Assembly's enacted state House redistricting plan as violating Oregon's redistricting statutes. Petitioners' claim centers around state House Districts 8 and 12, which they assert were drawn for the purpose of protecting an incumbent state Senator from a primary challenge by placing the likely challenger, an incumbent state Representative, into a different Senate district. By doing so, the petitioners assert that the plan violates Oregon Revised Statute Section 188.010(2), which prohibits districts "drawn for the purpose of favoring any . . . incumbent legislator." Additionally, petitioners allege that to achieve this incumbent protection, the Legislative Assembly failed to consider and wholly disregarded traditional redistricting criteria including preserving communities of interest and adhering to natural and logical boundaries in violation of Oregon Revised Statute Section 188.010(1). They are seeking a judicial declaration that the state's enacted legislative plan violates Oregon law and a court order requiring the Secretary of State to revise the plan to correct the legal violations.

On November 22, 2021, the Oregon Supreme Court issued an opinion ruling in favor of the defendants and upholding the plans on the grounds the plaintiffs failed to sufficiently support their claims. The court explained that based on the evidence presented by the parties as to the reasons for the configuration of House Districts 8 and 10, it could not conclude that "no reasonable legislature" would have made the decisions regarding the commonalities and connections between the communities involved as the Legislative Assembly made here. Similarly, the court found that the plaintiffs had not produced sufficient evidence to establish that the Legislative Assembly enacted the plans with an improper intent to favor incumbents.

Related Case: Sheehan v. Oregon Legislative Assembly

CASE LIBRARY

Oregon Supreme Court - No. S068989 [together with No. S068991]