Lawyers representing the interests of Minnesota’s Republican Party called the DFL plan “Gerrymandering” — a word that prompted Republican Legislative Redistricting Chair Representative Sarah Anderson to lash out at the public when it was used to describe the Republican redistricting plan earlier this year during a legislative hearing. DFL lawyers called the Republican plan “unresponsive” to days of public comments and hearings.
A third party in the case (Britton, et al) , noted that the Republican plan was vetoed earlier this year by Governor Mark Dayton because it was drawn to protect certain incumbents while trying to defeat others. The plan Republicans submitted to the court was very much the same as the plan that was vetoed. Lawyers representing Democratic Farmer Labor (DFL) party said Republican claims to the court that the public had ample time to comment on the plan are not true. The Republican plan was unveiled at 6:30 pm on May 2nd, approved in committee on a party-line vote on May 3 at and adopted on May 6.
The Britton lawyers complained the DFL plan potentially pits two female incumbent Congresswomen against each other, Representative Betty McCollum (DFL) and Representative Michele Bachmann (R). However, Bachmann announced in June that she is not actively running for re-election since she is seeking her party’s endorsement for President.
Republican lawyers quoted Representative McCollum’s opposition to her own party’s plan as reason that the court should not implement it.
Harsh words for Republican Legislative and Congressional plan
The DFL found fault with the third party Britton plan as well, saying it has a “host of deficiencies”, splitting more cities and counties than any other plan before the court. The Britton plan “splits adjacent communities with substantial minority populations” and “pays very little heed to (Native American) reservation borders, splitting the Mille Lacs, Fond du Lac, and Bois Forte reservations between senate districts and failing to put the Red Lake and White Earth reservations in a single district.”
The DFL defended its plan, telling the court it was “responsive” and avoided the “pitfalls” that public testimony had found with the Republican plan. And said the Republican plan creates rules not found in any of the court’s rulings such as requiring that House legislative districts be drawn before Senate districts and then creating Senate districts just by combining two House districts. Or a general “rule” that rivers should be boundaries. The DFL noted that Burnsville has more in common with Bloomington, which is across the river from it, than less developed suburbs to the south.
The DFL was critical of both the Republican and Britton plans for Rochester saying they appeared “designed to dilute the city’s voting strength by packaging chunks of the city with surrounding rural areas.” The Republican plan calls for Rochester to be split into five house districts and three Senate districts. During public hearings, Rochester’s Mayor Ardell Brede said the city differs very much from the surrounding communities with a 20.8% minority population compared to 4.6% for the rest of Olmstead County. Mayor Brede had asked for a single Senate district to cover most of the city.
DFL lawyers were particularly harsh in their criticism of the Republican Congressional redistricting plan.
They noted that the Republican plan was drawn up before the court panel had drawn up its redistricting principles. “They ask the Panel to accomplish judicially what Republican caucuses could not accomplish through the political process.” The Republican Congressional redistricting map was vetoed by Governor Dayton earlier this year.
DFL lawyers called the “unusual elongated districts” “unprecedented in Minnesota history, combining dissimilar communities, and defying both the public testimony heard by the Republican legislative majority in early 2011 and the public testimony heard by the Panel in October 2011.”
Here are the major documents filed today (all PDF’s)
“Hippert” is from the Republicans
“Martin” is from the DFL
“Britton” is a third group not associated with either party.