County files brief in support of state redistricting plan
Crook County has filed a legal brief with the state Supreme Court supporting the final state legislative redistricting plan drafted by the Secretary of StateAn amicus curiae (literally, "friend of the court") brief has been filed with the Oregon Supreme Court, supporting the final redistricting plan created by the secretary of state. The legal brief was filed by Crook County legal counselor Jeff Wilson at the request of County Judge Scott Cooper.
As of Tuesday afternoon, a total of 17 challenges of Bradbury's state legislative plan had been filed with the Attorney General's office, two challenging the Congressional redistricting plan. The legislative plan has the new district combining Crook County, Lake County and portions of Klamath and Jackson Counties into a single legislative district.
The cities of Shady Cover and Eagle Point, through their representatives, recently filed lawsuits challenging the plan. Apparently their suit argues that the two cities' "community of interest" lies with Jackson County and that district boundaries should be redrawn to reflect that fact.
In an earlier draft of the redistricting plan, which was vetoed by Gov. Kitzhaber, Crook County was split, with the community of Powell Butte separated from Prineville and Paulina. A subsequent "draft" plan issued by the secretary of state split the community of Paulina from the communities of Prineville and Powell Butte. After receiving protests from county officials, Secretary Bradbury redrew his final map to keep Crook County whole.
As revised, the county now supports the secretary's plan. Accordingly, the county has filed a "friend of the court" brief presenting legal arguments in support of the redistricting plan. To the best of Judge Cooper's knowledge, this is the first time Crook County has intervened in a case pending before the Supreme Court of Oregon to which it was not a party.
Cooper believes the current redistricting plan will result in fair and equal representation in both the House and Senate, giving the residents of Crook County a balanced voice in these two bodies. As part of the law governing redistricting, the secretary of state does not have the right to ignore county boundaries when forming a redistricting plan. He must, according to the law, follow them to the "maximum extent possible."
This, Wilson pointed out in his brief, does not mean that districts must be drawn in a manner that preserves all county lines. The reapportionment process by its very nature contemplates some limited need to cross those boundaries. However, the current plan preserves the boundaries of the largest possible number of counties and in doing so preserves existing county lines "to the maximum extent possible."
Bradbury's plan, as it effects Crook County, Wilson proposed, takes into consideration the importance of county boundaries and, therefore, complies with the legal requirements.
If Secretary Bradbury's redistricting plan is declared void, Crook County will undoubtedly find itself divided again as it has been in previous proposals.
As the plan currently stands, the voters of Crook County will not be fragmented and the voice of Crook County residents will be preserved at the state level, Wilson's brief states. "Crook County prays for a determination that the reapportionment complies with all applicable law and that the current reapportionment become operative."
The Oregon Constitution sets down a timeline for the process of redistricting the state's legislative districts.
A series of Constitutional deadlines for challenges sets Oct. 15 as the deadline for the Supreme Court to dismiss any petitions if the plan meets legal requirements. The plan takes effect at that time unless any petitions are not dismissed. in that case, Bradbury has until Dec. 1 to correct the plan. The Supreme Court must review and make necessary corrections by Dec. 15 when the plan takes effect.