Idaho Legislative Redistricting Map Upheld by Idaho Supreme Court

Late last Thursday afternoon, the Idaho Supreme Court announced their ruling that upholds the final legislative redistricting maps that were submitted to the Idaho Legislature and Secretary of State by the bipartisan Commission for Reapportionment in early November 2021. As we have previously reported the Legislative and Congressional Redistricting Maps, that are required to be reviewed and redrawn every ten years following the national census, were legally challenged by five different parties. The complainants in the legal challenge included two of Idaho’s native American tribes, the Ada County Commissioners and two private individuals.

The Idaho Supreme Court, in its ruling, stated that the four separate lawsuits against the legislative maps failed to showcase or make a convincing argument that the manner in which the maps split some of the higher population counties was unreasonable or that it unfairly disadvantaged the representation of those counties or specific communities.

The bipartisan Idaho Commission for Reapportionment is made of six individuals — three members appointed by Republican elected officials and party leaders, and three members appointed by Democratic elected and party leaders. The group is required to redraw the legislative and congressional voting districts based on the most recent census, with the target of dividing our fast growing population into 35 near equal legislative districts and 2 congressional districts. Following the 2020 census, it was determined that each Idaho legislative district should have approximately 52,000 residents. According to previous court cases and legal directives, the commission worked to draw the maps with no more than a 10% population variance and working to avoid dividing counties into multiple districts as much as possible.

Justice Stegner acknowledged the challenging job the commission faced in redrawing equally representative maps, “especially given Idaho’s unique geography and the different federal and state redistricting rules at play.”
The U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause requires the Reapportionment Commission to create districts that are as equal in population as possible, which ensures equal weight of each resident’s vote. Moreover, the Idaho Constitution states that the commission must not split more counties than is reasonably necessary when drawing the map. The final map that was submitted splits eight counties, most in the highly populated areas of the state, including Ada, Bannock, Bonner, Bonneville, Canyon, Gem, Kootenai, and Twin Falls.

With the 2022 Redistricting Maps now finalized, several Idaho Legislators will be “double-bunked” and face a primary run against fellow incumbent legislators as well as any newcomers to legislative elections. The double-bunking situation will make the May primary even more important than in years past. If you wish to see your new district and who you might be voting for in the upcoming election you can review the final legislative district map here.

The Idaho Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the final Congressional Map that was also submitted by the Committee on Reapportionment, but we expect that to change in the next week to ten days.

Posted in Advocacy on the Move, Idaho Advocacy.