Lawsuit could have courts redraw state’s political maps

Published 6:05 pm Tuesday, February 23, 2021

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ST. PAUL  — The Minnesota Legislature has yet to begin serious work on redrawing the state’s congressional and legislative district boundaries but the always contentious issue is already before the courts.

A lawsuit filed in Carver County and a parallel action in the Minnesota Supreme Court seeks to prevent the current maps from being used in 2022 and potentially have the courts take over the job, Minnesota Public Radio reported.

The case was filed by former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice James Gilbert on behalf of retired legislative redistricting expert Peter Wattson, retired Ramsey County Elections Manager Joe Mansky and others on Friday. It says the courts should redraw the political maps if nothing clears the Legislature by this time next year.

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Political maps must be redrawn every 10 years to account for population shifts, with a goal of making each type of district roughly equal in size. Since the 1970s in Minnesota, the process has spilled into the courts because the Legislature has been unable to reach agreement, so judges have dictated the layout.

That’s a concern this time around because figures from the 2020 census have been delayed until fall, and the Legislature has divided party control. Adding to the complications is that Minnesota could also lose a congressional seat.