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Published January 14, 2011, 03:40 PM

MN Political Map Lawsuit Filed

Four Democrats, including a former legislator, have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court seeking to involve the courts in the redistricting process because they fear lawmakers will not redraw the map fairly.

By: Brian Bakst, Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The once-a-decade fight over Minnesota's political map has made its way into federal court.

Four Democrats, including a former legislator, have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court seeking to involve the courts in the redistricting process because they fear lawmakers will not redraw the map fairly.

Every 10 years political district boundaries are redrawn to conform to population changes revealed by the census. Minnesota retained all eight of its congressional seats, but the lines of those and the 201 state legislative districts will certainly shift anyway. The exercise matters because the resulting districts can give one party a distinct advantage. It also can affect which party holds legislative majorities and sets the policy agenda.

The lawsuit names state and local elections officials as defendants. The Legislature and governor have the most direct role in redistricting, though past efforts to come up with a new map have usually wound up before the courts.

Plaintiff lawyers raise concerns about the ability of politicians to do the mapmaking fairly, citing portions of the state and U.S. constitutions related to equal representation.

"The plaintiffs are informed and believe, and therefore, allege that the Legislature of the State of Minnesota will not pass a law reapportioning itself in conformity the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Minnesota during the 2011 Legislative session," the lawsuit reads.

The lawsuit, which initially was filed Wednesday, seeks an injunction that would invalidate the current political map, and it asks that a judge require state leaders to submit proposed redistricting plans to the court.

Former state Rep. David Bly, a Northfield Democrat, is among the plaintiffs but all have connections to the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. Their lawyer, Alan Weinblatt, has long represented Democrats.

The Republican-controlled Legislature is in the early stages of the process, but hope to pass a bill this year with reshaped districts. That map will go to Dayton for approval.

Rep. Sarah Anderson and Sen. Geoff Michel, who lead the respective redistricting committees, didn't immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday.

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