CASE SUMMARY

On October 11, 2021, a former Oregon Secretary of State and several Oregon voters filed a petition in the Oregon Circuit Court for Marion County challenging the Legislative Assembly's enacted congressional redistricting plan (SB 881-A) as violating state law and the Oregon Constitution. Petitioners allege that the Legislative Assembly's enacted congressional plan is a partisan gerrymander that was drawn with the intent to favor the Democratic Party and its candidates and to disadvantage the Republican Party and its candidates. On this basis, the petitioners assert that the congressional plan violates Oregon Revised Statutes Section 188.010(2), which provides that "[n]o district shall be drawn for the purpose of favoring any political party, incumbent legislator or other person," and Section 188.010(1) because the Legislative Assembly ignored traditional redistricting criteria like respecting political subdivision boundaries and preserving communities of interest to effectuate the partisan gerrymander Petitioners also allege that the plan violates their Freedoms of Speech, Assembly, and Participation under Article I, Sections 8 and 26 of the Oregon Constitution because it negatively impacts their rights to participate in the political process, to express their political views, to affiliate or support a political party, and to cast a vote. Finally, petitioners assert that the plan also violates the Oregon Constitution's Privileges or Immunities Clause (Article I, Section 20) and Free and Equal Elections Clause (Article II, Section 1) because those clauses both prohibit the legislature from drawing and adopting a partisan gerrymandered redistricting plan. The petitioners are seeking a judicial declaration that the congressional plan violates both the Oregon Constitution and state law, an injunction barring the plan from being implemented or used in any future election, and for the court to require the adoption of a new, lawful redistricting plan.

On November 5, 2021, the court-appointed Special Master released their recommended findings of fact and report. On November 24, 2021, the court issued an opinion upholding the plan and dismissing the petitioners' challenge. The court rejected the petitioners' statutory claim on the grounds that the enacted plan was "within the range of plans" that had been adopted by the legislature and Oregon courts in the past and that the Legislative Assembly did not make any line-drawing decisions that "no reasonable legislature" would have made. The court also rejected the petitioners' constitutional claims, finding that the petitioners failed to sufficiently support their claim that the plan had an impermissible partisan effect.

CASE LIBRARY

Oregon Circuit Court, Marion County - No. 21CV40180