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Districting and Apportionment Commission Litigation


1993 Plan (1995-2003 Legislatures):

Old Person v. Brown: Plaintiff Petition for Certiori Denied by U.S. Supreme Court (November 17, 2003). History

2003 Plan (2005-2013 Legislatures):

Mike Wheat, Jon Tester, and Ken Hansen v. Bob Brown in his official capacity as Secretary of State of the State of Montana. (January 27, 2004, the Montana Supreme Court upheld the District Court decision on complaint that the Senate District legislation is unconstitutional. Commission-adopted holdover Senators are law. )

On October 15, 2003, the plaintiffs filed a complaint for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief asking the Court to declare that legislation purporting to deprive the Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission of authority to assign holdover Senators to new districts is void because it is contrary to Article V, section 14, of the Montana Constitution, and, in the alternative, because it is an unconstitutional delegation of power.

In a December 19, 2003, decision, Honorable Jeffrey Sherlock ruled that "Senate Bill 258, Senate Bill 445 and Joint Resolution 23 enacted by the 2003 Montana Legislature violate Article V, Section 14, of the Montana Constitution by impermissibly injecting the legislature into the redistricting and reapportionment duties assigned by the constitution to the Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission. To the extent that any of the just mentioned senate bills or joint resolution attempt to assign holdover senators pursuant to the 2000 federal census, they are hereby declared unconstitutional and of no force and effect. Further, the Montana Secretary of State is hereby ORDERED to give effect to the plan filed by the Commission, including its assignments of holdover senators."

The Secretary of State appealed the decision to the Montana Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled on January 27, 2004 and upheld the District Court ruling giving effect to the Commission assignments. The Supreme Court issued the opinion on February 18, 2004.

Brown v. Commission:

On February 5, 2003, the Commission adopted the final redistricting plan (with some minor amendments). Commissioners Sheila Rice and Joe Lamson submitted the plan to the Secretary of State as provided in the Montana Constitution. Bob Brown, Secretary of State, refused to accept the plan based on HB 309, which had been signed into law by Governor Martz on February 4, 2003. House Bill No. 309 required a plus or minus 1% deviation and the plan had been drawn using a criterion of plus or minus 5% deviation.

Secretary of State, Bob Brown, filed a complaint for declaratory judgment on February 5, 2003 requesting "the court to determine the constitutionality and statutory validity of the Statewide Redistricting Plan adopted by the Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission." A hearing for partial summary judgment on the complaint was held May 15, 2003, at the First Judicial District Court in Helena. Supplemental briefs were requested by May 29, 2003.

On July 2, the Honorable Dorothy Carter ruled, in summary, that "HB 309 impermissably conflicts with Article V, Section 14, of the Montana Constitution, and is void on that basis. HB 309 is not a valid implementation of Article V, Section 14, because that constitutional provision is self-executing, and because Article IV, Section 3, of the Montana Constitution does not authorize the legislature to interfere with the redistricting process beyond the express authority given to it in Article V, Section 14. The Secretary of State was required to file the Commission's plan, and his refusal to do so was therefore in violation of the Montana Constitution. Finally, the Secretary of State does not have standing to seek a declaratory judgment on the constitutionality of the Commission's plan."

The Secretary of State filed the plan and the 2005 districts became law on July 2, 2003, and the Commission is dissolved.

2005 Districts Final Plan Home Page

Districting and Apportionment Commission (1999-2003) home page


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Last Modified:
7/16/2008 2:51:33 PM