NH Republicans seek to block court action on redistricting

Published: May. 27, 2022 at 9:56 AM EDT
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CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The Republican leaders of the New Hampshire Legislature have asked the state Supreme Court to delay or end its takeover of the state’s congressional redistricting process.

Both the House and Senate approved a new congressional district map Thursday on the last day of the legislative session. But Republican Gov. Chris Sununu said he will veto it, and the state Supreme Court has said it would release a map Friday if the Legislature failed to enact one.

Senate President Chuck Morse and House Speaker Sherm Packard filed a motion late Thursday, however, asking the court to dismiss the case or halt the release of its map until after Sununu takes action.

“The Constitutional lawmaking process does not anticipate that when the Governor is considering an act of the General Court that he will be provided with a judicially created ‘backup proposal’ that allows him to choose a favorite between a legislative created redistricting map and a judicially created redistricting map,” attorneys for the Republican leaders wrote.

They also argued that the plan approved by the Legislature was “validly enacted” and therefore the court should dismiss the case.

New Hampshire is one few states yet to finalize new U.S. House districts as required every 10 years to reflect population changes. The issue must be decided by June 1, the first day of the filing period for the September primary.

Under the latest plan, the 1st District would cover the southeast corner of the state and be tilted slightly toward Republicans, while the 2nd District would cover the western half of the state and the north country and become slightly more Democratic. More than two dozen towns and cities comprising nearly a third of the state’s population would have switched districts, including Manchester.

In a ruling this month, the court said it will use the existing districts as a benchmark and employ a “least change” approach. That could mean adopting a map favored by Democrats that would move a single town — Hampstead — from the 1st District to the 2nd.

Sununu called the plan unfair in part because it puts both Democratic incumbents in the same district. His office did not immediately respond Friday to a request for comment on when he would veto the bill.

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