Tue June 19, 2012
NH Supreme Court Upholds House Redistricting Plan
The State Supreme Court has put an end to the long debate over the redistricting of New Hampshire’s House of Representatives. It unanimously upheld a redistricting plan championed by House Republican Leadership.
Governor Lynch vetoed the redistricting plan, saying it ran afoul of a 2006 amendment to the state’s constitution. When the legislature passed the plan over the veto, the cities of Manchester, Concord, Laconia, and other groups brought suit.
They argue Republican leaders could have created more districts, if they had allowed for slightly more variation in population per district. But the court, citing federal case law, say the plan is up to constitutional snuff.
In its ruling the court notes that redistricting plans are presumed constitutional, until found otherwise on "inescapable grounds." And while an argument might be made that the plan could have created more, small districts, the court writes it can't fault the legislature for giving primary consideration to the federal "one person/one vote" principal, saying "the Supreme Court has held that population equality must be the predominant factor in redistricting plans."
The chair of the redistricting committee, Republican Paul Mirski, says the new, smaller districts will increase the chances that voters know their representatives.
Mirski: What will happen is people will elect people they’re comfortable with, rather than people who are political activists.
Mirski agrees more small districts would be ideal, but so far federal courts have made it clear that equally sized districts are more important.