Share “Judge dismisses challenge to Oklahoma...”

Judge dismisses challenge to Oklahoma Senate redistricting plan

An Oklahoma County district judge says the Oklahoma Supreme Court already has determined the plan meets constitutional muster.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: October 12, 2011
Advertisement

Saying that the issue had already been decided by the state's highest court, a district judge Tuesday threw out a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state Senate's redistricting plan.

Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, co-chairman of the Senate's redistricting committee, said it is time for the legal challenge of the Senate's plan to redraw its 48 districts to come to an end.

But Sen. Jim Wilson, D-Tahlequah, who filed lawsuits first with the Oklahoma Supreme Court and then in Oklahoma County District Court, said he will file an immediate appeal with the state's highest court.

Legislators every 10 years — after census figures are released — redraw the House and Senate district boundaries. Candidates next year will run for the new districts, which will become effective a couple weeks after the 2012 general election when legislators take their oaths of office.

“It's disappointing we have to go through that again,” said Wilson's attorney, Mark Hammons, of Oklahoma City. “What it may mean is that we may be litigating this issue while the elections are going on.”

District Judge Lisa Davis dismissed Wilson's lawsuit, agreeing with attorneys for the Senate who argued that the issue had already been decided by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Wilson claimed the redistricting plan was political gerrymandering. The Supreme Court said it couldn't take up that argument, but suggested the matter could be taken up in district court.

He said the redistricting plan focused on making it safe for Republicans to maintain control of the Senate. Republicans gained control of the Senate in 2008 for the first time in state history.

The Senate approved the redistricting plan by a vote of 38-6. Eight Democrats voted for it and six Democrats voted against it.

“We had a bipartisan plan,” Jolley said.

The GOP-controlled House of Representatives also approved it, and Republican Gov. Mary Fallin signed it into law.

Wilson filed a lawsuit with the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which in a 9-0 opinion last month said the Senate redistricting plan complies with population requirements outlined in the state constitution. However, four justices wrote a concurrent opinion that claims of gerrymandering could be taken up in district court.

Continue reading this story on the...