weather icon Clear
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

Redistricting to move ahead after court rejects request

CARSON CITY — The state Supreme Court on Friday rejected a request from Secretary of State Ross Miller to stop a panel of citizens from starting next week to redraw congressional and legislative districts.

The high court said the process should continue for the public good and for a swift resolution. “Strong public policy reasons dictate that the parties’ concerns are subordinate to the general public’s interest in having this redistricting matter resolved expediently so as to avoid continued and ongoing disruption to Nevada’s election process,” the judges wrote in an unanimous decision.

The parties in this case are Miller and the Democratic and Republican parties.

The decision means a three-member District Court-appointed panel will hold public hearings on redistricting at
9:30 a.m. Monday in the Sawyer Building in Las Vegas, followed by a 9:30 a.m. Tuesday hearing in the Legislative Building in Carson City.

Then they will meet privately to redraw election district maps to reflect population changes shown by the 2010 census. The panel has been directed by District Judge James T. Russell to complete its work by Oct. 21. He then will make the maps public.

Miller earlier this week asked the court to advise and then stop the panel of Las Vegas lawyer Thomas Sheets, Carson City Clerk-Recorder Alan Glover and former Legislative Counsel Bureau research director Bob Erickson from meeting. Miller first petitioned the court to order Russell to guide the panel on legal matters, such as whether there should be Hispanic majority districts. Then he asked the court Thursday to stop the panel from meeting at all.

But the court Wednesday asked Miller and lawyers for the Democratic and Republican parties to prepare legal briefs on whether the courts and panel, or the Legislature, should handle redistricting. The court set a Nov. 14 hearing.

Justices noted that under the state constitution, it is “the duty” of the Legislature to handle redistricting following every census. Gov. Brian Sandoval twice vetoed redistricting bills passed by Democrat legislators on the grounds they did not create a Hispanic majority congressional district or enough Hispanic majority legislative districts.

Legislators then adjourned June 7 without settling redistricting matters. Even before then, lawyers for both political parties had filed lawsuits over redistricting. The matter then fell to Russell, the son of former Republican Gov. Charles Russell, who appointed the panel of three special masters. He is set to rule Nov. 16 on whether the maps prepared by the panelists are sufficient or whether changes should be made. More lawsuits are expected to be filed after he makes his decision.

Miller has expressed concern that the final approval of maps may not be done before candidates begin filing for seats up for election next March.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.