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June 08, 2004

More Good News with the House

By Byron LaMasters

The GOP redistricting plan in Colorado that was struck down by the Colorado Supreme Court last year has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. By a 6-3 vote, they refused to hear the case (4 votes are needed to hear it). Currently, Democrats have a shot at picking up as many as three seats in Colorado this year. The redistricting would have made it possible for Republicans to pick up a seat. The delegation is currently 5-2 GOP. Here's the NY Times article:

The battle over a new Congressional map for Colorado, one of the country's most closely watched redistricting cases, ended Monday in a Democratic victory at the Supreme Court. Falling one vote short, the justices refused to hear the Colorado Republicans' appeal of a state high court ruling that invalidated an unusual second redistricting plan the Republicans had pushed through the legislature in the closing days of its 2003 session.


In invalidating Colorado's new redistricting plan last December, the Colorado Supreme Court said it was relying completely on the state Constitution to conclude that Congressional redistricting could be conducted only once a decade. That decision meant that the district lines reverted to those drawn by a state court in early 2002, after the legislature failed to agree on how to draw new lines following the 2000 census, which gave Colorado a new Seventh District. Under that plan, Colorado Democrats say they have a good chance to pick up two seats.

In November 2002, Republicans gained control of the Colorado legislature. Over Democratic objections, they pushed through a new plan in the final days of the 2003 legislative session.

In drafting an appeal to the United States Supreme Court, the Republicans' challenge - as it had been in Florida after the 2000 presidential election - was to find an issue of federal law to provide jurisdiction. In their appeal, Colorado General Assembly v. Salazar, No. 03-1082, they argued that the federal Constitution's "elections clause," giving state legislatures the power to make rules for Congressional elections, did not allow that power to be transferred to state courts. Consequently, they maintained, the court-ordered plan did not count, and the 2003 legislative plan should prevail.

The appeal evidently provoked a behind-the-scenes struggle among the justices, who considered it at five consecutive weekly conferences before turning it down on what was apparently a vote of 6 to 3, one short of the four necessary to hear a case. The majority offered no comment, and only the dissenters - Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist along with Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas - identified themselves.

Chief Justice Rehnquist's opinion, which the other two signed, was reminiscent of his opinion in Bush v. Gore, the Florida case that decided the 2000 election. He said the state court decision, "while purporting" to be based on state law, actually made a "debatable interpretation" of federal law in validating the initial court-ordered redistricting. The decision should be reviewed, he said.

You gotta love how conservatives like Rehnquist just love state's rights until the issue benefits Democrats. When Democrats benefit from state's rights (Bush v. Gore, Colorado General Assembly v. Salazar), conservatives seem to forget about state's rights and toe the party line. Such principle.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at June 8, 2004 01:45 PM | TrackBack


The Supreme Court has requested that Greg Abbott explain by June 28th the compelling governmental reason to redraw congressional lines.

I'm not holding my breath, but what a great thing it would be if Delay's gerrymander was thrown out by SCOTUS.

06-02: High court wants AG response to Texas redistricting

Posted by: seth at June 8, 2004 03:06 PM

It would be nice, except for that fact that DeLay in a typical fit of arrogance, put himself in a district that might actually be in play.

If the court overturns it, he'll get over 60% if he's found in bed with a dead girl and a live boy.

Go Morrison!

Posted by: Matthew Saroff at June 8, 2004 04:03 PM

What three seats do the Dems have a shot at? I thought it was just Colorado-7.

Posted by: pc at June 8, 2004 04:29 PM

Not a bad trade off, in my view. If the Supreme Court finds a reason to toss the recent redistricting map, difficult as that is to imagine, I'd accept DeLay for one more term if we could hang on to the other Dems. There's really a principle at stake here....(and he still has to get more votes than the other person).

Posted by: Dennis at June 8, 2004 05:51 PM

pc - CO-7 is one. CO-4 is another where Stan Matsunaka is in a rematch with Marylin Musgrave. Musgrove beat Matsunaka in 2002 55-42, but 2002 was a good GOP year in Colorado, and Musgrave has acted as one of the most shrill and one-issue congress members in the country. She is obsessed with gay marriage and the FMA, and a lot of people in the district think that she's too focused on that one issue. Also, polling suggests a close race. Kos has more, here.

There's also CO-3 where Ken Salazar's brother is running in an open seat. The district leans Republican, but it's essentially a toss-up at this point, until the GOP nominee is decided.

There's a lot of incentive for Kerry and the DNC to target Colorado. The US Senate seat and 3 of their 7 congressional seats will be competetive.

Posted by: Byron L at June 9, 2004 01:08 AM

Byron L wrote

You gotta love how conservatives like Rehnquist just love state's rights until the issue benefits Democrats. When Democrats benefit from state's [sic] rights (Bush v. Gore, Colorado General Assembly v. Salazar), conservatives seem to forget about state's [sic] rights and toe the party line. Such principle.

The difference is that it's not a simple states' rights issue. In each case, there's a substantiative federal issue involved (a state's representation in the federal Electoral College in the former, and a state's representation in the federal legislature in the latter).

Posted by: Jonathan Sadow at June 10, 2004 06:26 PM
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