Washington Supreme Court declines to draw new redistricting plan

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FILE - A person walks near the Legislative Building, Wednesday, April 21, 2021, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Washington's redistricting commission failed to meet its deadline and on Tuesday, Nov. 16, kicked the job of creating new political maps to the state Supreme Court. The bipartisan commission had a deadline of 11:59 p.m. Monday to approve new boundaries for congressional and legislative districts following the 2020 census. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
FILE - A person walks near the Legislative Building, Wednesday, April 21, 2021, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Washington's redistricting commission failed to meet its deadline and on Tuesday, Nov. 16, kicked the job of creating new political maps to the state Supreme Court. The bipartisan commission had a deadline of 11:59 p.m. Monday to approve new boundaries for congressional and legislative districts following the 2020 census. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The state Supreme Court on Friday said a plan adopted by the Washington Redistricting Commission “substantially complied” with statutory deadlines, and declined to adopt a new redistricting plan for the state.

"This is not a situation in which the Supreme Court must step in because the Commission has failed to agree on a plan it believes complies with state and federal requirements," the justices wrote. “The court concludes that the primary purpose of achieving a timely redistricting plan would be impeded, not advanced, by rejecting the Commission’s completed work.”

The five-page order was signed by all nine justices and it returns the issue to the commission for any final steps necessary before sending new political maps to the Legislature.

The Redistricting Commission consisted of four voting members — two Democrats and two Republicans — appointed by legislative caucus leaders. The Democratic appointees were former legislator Brady Piñero Walkinshaw and state labor-council leader April Sims; Republican commissioners were former state legislators Joe Fain and Paul Graves.

By law, at least three of the four had to agree on new political maps by Nov. 15.

Commissioners defended their chaotic final hours of work at a news conference last month, saying it was hampered by a late 2020 Census, limitations caused by the coronavirus pandemic and technological issues such as crashing computers.

But all four commissioners agreed the tardy maps that were ultimately produced had their full support and should be considered by the Supreme Court justices.

The order states that the court has not evaluated and does not render any opinion on the plan’s compliance with any statutory and constitutional requirements other than the November 15th deadline.

“By voting to approve congressional and legislative redistricting plans before the end of the day on November 15, 2021, the Commission complied with its obligation under article II, subsection 43(6) of the Washington Constitution to “complete redistricting” by that date, and it substantially complied with the essential purpose of RCW 44.05.100 to approve and transmit a plan to the legislature by that date,” the justices wrote.

This article originally appeared on Kitsap Sun: Washington Supreme Court declines to draw new redistricting plan

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