Colorado Redistricting Ruling Favors Democrats

Posted October 23, 2003 at 11:52am

The Colorado Court of Appeals this morning handed down a decision that could aid Democrats in their attempts to overturn the new Congressional district map that Republicans rammed through the state Legislature earlier this year.

The court found in favor of a 2002 Democratic lawsuit that accused Colorado House Republican leaders of violating a provision in the state constitution that requires every bill that’s introduced in the Legislature to have a fair committee hearing.

The ruling that Republicans who control the state House violated the constitution is expected to influence a case filed by Democrats in a Colorado District Court that could be used to overturn the redistricting plan on procedural grounds.

“It is the court saying, ‘Just because you have the legislative majority, you can’t do whatever you want,’” said Thomas Downey, an attorney for the Colorado House Democratic Caucus.

That District Court case is not the only legal challenge to the Republican redistricting plan, which redrew two previously swing House districts in favor of the GOP.

The state Supreme Court could rule as soon as Monday on a case brought by Democrats that said the state’s 2001 Congressional map — which was approved by the courts after the Legislature came to an impasse on redistricting — met the state’s once-in-a-decade Constitutional requirement that the Legislature set new Congressional boundaries. Republican lawmakers argued that they were justified in reopening redistricting this year because the courts, rather than the Legislature, drew the map that was used for the 2002 elections.

A federal court heard a similar challenge from Democrats, but it is not expected to rule until the state’s highest court weighs in.