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Salazar v. Davidson

The Attorney General of Colorado challenged the constitutionality of the Legislature’s mid-decade redistricting.

Published: December 1, 2003

Salazar v. Davidson
Government Accountability

Following the 2000 census, the Colorado legislature could not agree on a redistricting plan, so a state court drew a new map with four “safe” Republican seats, two “safe” Democratic seats, and one competitive seat. The 2002 election gave the Republican Party control of the legislature, which it used to transform the competitive district into a “safe” Republican seat. Such mid-decade redistricting, also known as “re-redistricting,” was also done in Texas in 2003. Such maneuvers threaten to exacerbate the already serious problem of politicians’ rendering legislative elections meaningless through severe gerrymandering.

The Attorney General of Colorado challenged the constitutionality of the state’s re-redistricing bill. The Brennan Center, with pro bono assistance from the firm of O’Melveny & Myers, filed an amicus brief in the Colorado Supreme Court in support of the Attorney General. The brief argued that by deliberately making it more difficult for some voters than others to elect their chosen candidates, the “re-redistricting” violated many state and federal constitutional provisions, most importantly the voters’ rights to free speech, equal protection, and to vote. The Colorado Supreme Court held in December 2003 that the state’s constitution prohibits the legislature from “re-redistricting” the state’s Congressional districts in the middle of a decade.