Monday, January 23, 2012

Showdown Expected on Republican Redistricting Commissioners

Posted By on Mon, Jan 23, 2012 at 1:06 PM

As if Idaho's redistricting fiasco wasn't complicated enough, we can now expect a legal showdown of who should be on the committee tasked with slicing up the Gem State into new congressional and legislative districts.

On Jan. 18, the Idaho Supreme Court ruled that the redistricting commission, made up of three Republicans and three Democrats appointed by their respective parties, had erred in its proposed redistricting map. In a 4-1 decision, the high court said the map was unconstitutional by inappropriately dividing 12 of Idaho's 44 counties.

The commission was told to reconvene, and a new session was scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 26.

However, Idaho Republican Party Chairman Norm Semanko and House Speaker Lawerence Denney said today they're firing commissioners Randy Hansen and Dolores Crow (a former representative from Nampa) and will announce replacements Tuesday. But Crow has already said she had no plans to quit, hinting that a court battle may be looming.

Additionally, the Idaho Attorney General's Office has weighed in on the matter, saying Denney and Semanko can't fire their commissioners. They can only be replaced if they resign. The law governing the redistricting commission doesn't include any provision to remove commissioners from office.

"No provision for removal of a commissioner with or without cause exists," wrote Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane, in a three-page opinion sent to Secretary of State Ben Ysursa. "Absent authority for removal by the appointing authority, it appears that a vacancy can occur only in specific circumstances."

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