GOVERNMENT

Groups suing over Utah congressional boundaries, call it gerrymandering

Mar 17, 2022, 2:55 PM | Updated: Mar 18, 2022, 3:37 pm
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 — The fight over Utah’s congressional boundaries is heading into the next round.

The League of Women Voters of Utah and Mormon Women for Ethical Government are suing the state, asking a judge to block the map adopted by the lawmakers and replace it with one made by the Utah Independent Redistricting Commission. Several groups had expressed they might consider suing the state after the House and Senate approved the congressional boundaries.

Congressional boundaries

League President Kathrine Weller said lawmakers drew their map in secret.

“Despite overwhelming testimony in favor of the commission’s maps at their own hearing, our legislature shut out the very people they represent,” said Weller at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

Attorney David Reymann said their goal is to have the legislative map ruled as unlawful, plus they want the map redrawn.  They’re also asking the judge to reinstate the Utah Independent Redistricting Commission.  During the press conference, several people who worked on the commission spoke about all of the public comments they listened to, and all the hours they worked on their redistricting map just to have it thrown away.

“The people’s right to enact legislation, we believe, is more durable than the legislature simply discarding it in the way that they did,” Reymann said.

He said an initiative approved by the voters has just as much authority as a law passed on Capitol Hill. So, the map created by the voter-approved commission should have been followed.

Reymann said, “There may be a legitimate way for the legislature to alter enactments that the people directly initiate through the initiative process, but we don’t believe it was followed, in this case.”

Gov. Spencer Cox says there was no illegal gerrymandering in the legislative map, but he can’t comment on the lawsuit.

“This is something we’ve talked about, at length, and I’m not sure there’s any more to add to the discussion out there,” the governor said.

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Groups suing over Utah congressional boundaries, call it gerrymandering