GOVERNMENT

Utah group considers lawsuit over congressional redistricting map

Nov 11, 2021, 6:26 PM
Redistricting congressional boundaries are now the subject of a lawsuit...
People protesting the new congressional district map shortly after it passed through the Senate on Nov. 10, 2021. (Laura Seitz/Deseret News)
(Laura Seitz/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A legal fight over the new proposed Utah redistricting map may be in the works.  Opponents of the legislative map say they’re weighing their legal options as they fight to have that map replaced.

Ever since the legislature decided to adopt their own redistricting map instead of picking one of the options approved by the Independent Redistricting Commission, the group Better Boundaries started looking into what their legal options were.  Executive Director Katie Wright says lawmakers ignored the voter-approved commission and forwarded a map that would allow incumbents to keep their power.

“We have been keeping all scenarios and options on the table,” Wright said, “but, again, we had to see how this played out to see if there is a feasible legal path.”

This “legal path” may include a lawsuit, if they can find grounds to sue the state.  The group is also considering bringing the issue to the people for a vote in 2022.

“We could run a ballot initiative that repeals the map that has been adopted,” according to Wright.  A map chosen by lawmakers would be replaced by one created by the IRC. But they haven’t determined which IRC map they would select.

Wright says it’s widely believed that only the legislature can approve congressional district maps. She argues that state law isn’t clear on that subject.

“In the past, up until the 70s in Utah, we had citizen redistricting commissions that were binding,” she said.

Better Boundaries has formed a political action committee that reportedly has $50 thousand to “pursue electoral consequences.”  Wright says they have very clear intentions on how to spend that money.

 “[It will] fund opposition to candidates and incumbents that voted against the independent commission map,” she says.

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Utah group considers lawsuit over congressional redistricting map