A five-judge panel that’s likely to end up drawing the state’s political boundaries heard arguments Wednesday about the best way to do it.
Attorneys for the political parties made their case to the panel Wednesday. Republicans say the court should make population changes its top priority. Democrats argued the court should give communities of interest — like minority populations — equal weight.
Attorney Eric Magnuson, who is representing the Republican Party, said DFL attorneys are going too far with their recommendation.
“What he’s really proposing is that you have subjective and kind of nebulous criteria so that they can maybe fashion things a little bit more the way they want them,” Magnuson said. “In our view, maybe those are arguments you can make to the Legislature but when you’re arguing to the court, you have to follow the constitution and the statute.”
But Marc Elias, an attorney representing Democrats, said the court needs to also consider communities. He said drawing the lines on population alone hurts certain communities such as minorities.
“It’s not enough to stop there because if life were that simple we wouldn’t be here,” Elias said. “If it was just a mechanical process of taking these higher level criteria and applying them mechanically then indeed we wouldn’t need hearings.”
The parties have to submit their proposed maps to the court by November 18th. The court will take over the process if Governor Dayton and the GOP-controlled Legislature can’t reach an agreement on the new congressional and legislative districts by February 21st.
A reporter asked Dayton to give odds on whether he can reach agreement with the Legislature on a map before the deadline.
“Somewhere between the Vikings winning the division and the Vikings winning the Super Bowl,” Dayton said. “But there’s always hope.”
You can listen to the full redistricting hearing here:
Pool Photo provided by the Star Tribune’s Glen Stubbe.