Utah's Redistricting News

 The Salt Lake Tribune: "Panel Kills Bills on Redistricting, Candidate Drafts." February 14, 2003
 The Salt Lake Tribune: "Legislative Losers Wistful, But Move On." February 6, 2003
 Washington Post: "Utah-N.C. Case to Be Heard Soon." January 25, 2002
 Washington Post: "High Court to Consider Census Suit." January 23, 2002
 Associated Press: "Court Will Consider Census Practice." January 22, 2002
 Salt Lake Tribune: "Reform of Redistricting Falters." January 12, 2002
 Roll Call: "Between the Lines (excerpt)." December 3, 2001
 San Francisco Chronicle: "Republican Redistricting Could Help Utah Democratic Congressman." November 30, 2001
 Daily Herald: "Census Issue Not Over Yet." November 27, 2001
 Salt Lake Tribune: "Supreme Court Rejects 1 of 2 Utah Census Suits." November 27, 2001
 Rocky Mountain News: "High Court Rejects Utahís Bid for N.C. Congressional Seat." November 26, 2001
 Salt Lake Tribune: "End Incumbent Protection." November 25, 2001
 New York Times: "Utah G.O.P. Endangers a Democrat." November 23, 2001
 Deseret News: "Proportional Elections?" November 15, 2001
 Roll Call: "Between the Lines (excerpt)." November 12, 2001
 Deseret News: "Independent Redistrictors Urged for 2011." November 8, 2001
 Deseret News: "Could a Commission Improve Redistricting?" November 7, 2001
 Roll Call: "Between the Lines (excerpt)." November 5, 2001
 Roll Call: "Between the Lines (excerpt)." November 5, 2001
 Deseret News: "Matheson to Run, Not Litigate." November 5, 2001

Utah redistricting news from October 1, 2001-November 1, 2001

Utah redistricting news from June 19, 2001-September 30, 2001

Utah redistricting news from April 27, 2001-June 14, 2001

Utah redistricting news from January 4, 2001 - March 17, 2001

The Salt Lake Tribune
Panel Kills Bills on Redistricting, Candidate Drafts
By Kirsten Stewart
February 14, 2003

Two measures aimed at bringing some balance to lopsided, one-party governance in Utah were squashed Thursday in the Republican-controlled House Government Operations Committee.

The first, a proposal to get the Legislature out of the business of redistricting, was tabled for further study. Rather than allowing lawmakers to tweak boundaries affecting their own districts -- a process sponsor Rep. Roz McGee says presents a conflict of interest -- House Joint Resolution 17 would have set up a bipartisan commission of seven individuals.

To be considered for the commission, a person would have to be a Utahn, 25 years of age and could not hold or run for an elected office until the second post-redistricting election cycle.

The Democrat from Salt Lake City walked into the hearing expecting opposition.

"I need to tell you that people are already offering me bets as to how fast this committee will kill this bill," she said.

But McGee, "fresh from the campaign trail where voters in my district were outraged" by post Census 2000 gerrymandering, is bent on keeping the issue before the public.

The second measure to fail outright would have allowed political parties to draft candidates for public office at nominating conventions even if the draftee missed the deadline for declaring candidacy.

Sponsor Rep. Neil Hansen, D-Ogden, said the bill would have helped Democrats fill the 24 legislative seats that ran unopposed in the last election. It also might draw more voters to otherwise "lackluster" elections, he said.

Republicans shot down both measures, arguing "if it ain't broke don't fix it." Why meddle with redistricting procedures when the existing process is as good as it's going to get, asked Rep. Loraine Pace, R-Logan.

"I don't know how you're going to make this process fair. There's always going to be outrage if it affects you personally," Pace said.

Rep. Don Bush, R-Clearfield, targeted Hansen's bill saying, "What you're talking about is a failure of your party leaders to do their job to get people to sign up."

Pace, offering a parting shot, said, "The political process is stressful enough. There is ample time to encourage involvement."

The Salt Lake Tribune
Legislative Losers Wistful, But Move On
By Dan Harrie
February 6, 2003

Rep. Trisha Beck won't be returning to Utah's Capitol Hill this year as a lawmaker or a lobbyist. But two dozen of her students are likely to be navigating the halls and committee rooms trying to find, and perhaps jostle, the levers of political power.

After six years in the state House, the Sandy Democrat was defeated in November's election and now is teaching others how to be "citizen lobbyists."

Lesson No. 1 in her newly established University of Utah course, "Interest Group Politics and Lobbying," is registering to vote and identifying one's elected representatives in the Legislature and Congress. Beck describes it as the first critical step toward gaining political power.

"I did lose by 33 votes, so I'm going to be teaching how important it is to be involved," she told her 28 students on a recent Wednesday evening, the first session of the new class.

Beck blames Republican-controlled redistricting -- she calls it gerrymandering -- for her election ouster from House District 48 in Sandy at the hands of GOP newcomer LaVar Christensen. Despite a tinge of bitterness, Beck encouraged students not to surrender to feelings of political impotence.

"Every one of you can teach [legislators]," she says. "You can teach them what is happening on the home front."

Beck is one of 18 lawmakers who won't be back in their old seats when the 45-day legislative session begins today.

Of those suddenly on the outside looking in, 11 are Republicans and seven are Democrats. Most of the Republicans departed on their own, stepping down to run for higher office or because they had had their fill of the part-time Legislature. Only one member of the Democratic minority retired voluntarily -- Sen. Alicia Suazo, who served out the unexpired term of her late husband, Pete Suazo.

Beck and two other Democrats were defeated in the general election. Three more Democrats were forced out by redistricting.

Former Senate Majority Leader Steve Poulton, R-Holladay, was the only Republican incumbent defeated in the November election. Three Republicans lost in convention or primary contests.

Although Poulton would rather have won his tough election fight against Democrat Patrice Arent, he said, he feels a certain amount of relief as the legislative session gets under way.

"It's just a tremendous commitment of time away from family and business, and it becomes your whole life," he said. "Everything gets neglected and it just consumes you.

"I've got time on my hands now. I've started reading books again and I can read the magazines I haven't been able to. I golf. From a pure selfish standpoint, life is lots better now. I have no bitterness, no animosity, no regrets. Whether you win or lose, just being in the game, that's where it is.

"The reality is life goes on and the legislative process goes on and when it's all over with, hey, move on."

Sen. Terry Spencer, R-Layton, has a similarly resigned attitude.

"It's kind of like being a Mormon bishop and I'm released now," said Spencer, who has had months to recuperate psychologically from his ouster in the Davis County Convention in April.

While he may venture back to the Hill to push for certain of his pet issues, he won't return as a paid lobbyist.

"That's for sure. They've got enough lobbyists up there," Spencer said.

Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, is less soured on the large and growing corps of paid persuaders in the Capitol. He expects to join their ranks in the coming weeks, lobbying for a bill to increase retirement benefits for law enforcement officers. A credit union executive, he also may get involved in the brewing legislative war between banks and credit unions.

"There's a lot of big issues up there this year, and I feel unfortunate that I can't be up there to work on them" as a legislator, Ray said. "It gets in your blood, and it's hard to walk away from."

But he already has found a new political post since his defeat in the June primary. He now serves on the Clearfield City Council after being appointed in August to fill a vacancy.

Sen. Ed Allen, D-Ogden, meanwhile, is back working full time as a medical doctor.

"Personally, I'm a lot better off -- tons better off. [Serving in the Legislature] was a very expensive thing to do for me," Allen said. "The morning after the election, my wife woke up and said, 'Yes!' . . . I've said, 'Patty, wipe that smile off your face, it's embarrassing.' "

But Allen admits to frustration in the way the Republican majority runs things, including dramatically changing his voting area in redistricting.

"I'm not going to miss watching the majority go behind closed doors for hour after hour on the public's nickel," Allen said. "I have great respect for democracy, but I don't think it's working very well in Utah."

Rep. Cindy Beshear, D-Taylorsville, echoes the sentiment.

"A one-party system is not good," said Beshear, who works as a legal assistant for her attorney husband. "It's not good whether it's Arkansas [her home state] and the Democrats are in charge or Utah and the Republicans are in charge. It breeds contempt for the process, and it eliminates the checks and balances that are so necessary."

Rep. Afton Bradshaw, R-Salt Lake City, retired after 18 years on the Hill. She was the last of a kind -- the lone Republican House member representing Salt Lake City.

Her old seat now is in Democratic hands, and she worries about what that means for the capital city, given Democrats' extreme minority status in the Legislature. They are outnumbered 56-19 by Republicans in the House and 22-7 in the Senate.

"Salt Lake City now has no voice in [the Republican] caucus," Bradshaw said. "They didn't listen to me all the time, but at least the voice was there."

Bradshaw, who first was elected in 1984, said it was just time to move on. She is spending more time with her grandchildren these days.

The moderate Republican said she will miss the camaraderie in the Legislature and the pressure to constantly learn about new issues. "What I won't miss is the bickering, the angry people. Somehow there is more of that now than there used to be."

Sen. Millie Peterson, D-West Valley City, was ousted at the convention after a redistricting change that was hatched by Democrats working with Republicans against her.

"The good old boys on both sides went after me," said Peterson, who for four of her 12 years in the Legislature was the only woman in the Senate. Currently, five of 29 senators are women.

But "we make them uncomfortable," Peterson said. "They have certain ways of communicating and talking -- kind of like men who jock-talk. The good old boys have a way of doing things that they don't have to explain to other good old boys, and they think that's perfectly OK."

Peterson has developed a course on the legislative process and lobbying that she hopes to teach through the high school community education program, and, perhaps, community colleges.

"I don't believe we teach well in the area of civics -- how people can get involved," Peterson said.

Beck recalled for her students her own entry into the mysterious world of citizen lobbying 20-odd years ago. It started with an Ann Landers column, in which the late advice-giver told a reader complaining about government: "Quit your belly aching and go up to your state Capitol and do something about it."

Then a young mother, Beck gathered up her three youngsters in strollers and set out for the Legislature.

Years later, she was appointed to a vacant seat and won re-election twice.

"It was a great opportunity to sit at the table," she says of her time in the Capitol. "Most of us state representatives are just normal people, too."

She hesitated, then added: "Most of us."

Washington Post
Utah-N.C. Case to Be Heard Soon
By Charles Lane
January 25, 2002

The Supreme Court announced yesterday it is putting a dispute between Utah and North Carolina over congressional apportionment on a fast track, permitting it to be heard before the 2002 election.

It granted Utah's motion for a March 27 hearing on its claim the 2000 Census wrongly awarded a House seat to North Carolina that should be Utah's.

The stakes are lower than the court's last political foray, the 2000 presidential case, but tension between Utah, with its GOP governor and legislature, and Democratic-led North Carolina runs high.

Utah's motion cited the court's swift handling of Bush v. Gore as precedent for settling this "matter of profound importance" in time for the states to organize their primary and general elections.

North Carolina objected, saying the case "would be so disruptive to the elections process in this state as to cause irreparable damage to North Carolina and her citizens."

Washington Post
High Court to Consider Census Suit: In Politically Charged Case, Utah Says Statistical Methods Cost It a House Seat
By Charles Lane
January 23, 2002

The Supreme Court announced yesterday that it will hold hearings in a case that could affect the makeup of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, whose membership will be up for grabs in elections this November.

At issue is Utah's claim that the 2000 Census used impermissible statistical methods to estimate a small portion of the population, thus shifting an additional House seat in the next Congress to North Carolina that Utah believes it should have gotten.

If Utah wins at the high court, the GOP-controlled state could pick up a seat, and North Carolina, whose legislature is controlled by the Democrats, would lose its new seat.

A Republican loss of just six seats in November could cost the party its majority. Utah has three House members now, two of them Republicans, one a Democrat. North Carolina has 12, five Democrats and seven Republicans. The current breakdown of the House as a whole is 222 Republicans, 211 Democrats and two independents, one of whom caucuses with the Democrats and one with the Republicans.

The case centers on "hot-deck imputation," a statistical method that has been used by the Census Bureau since 1960. When census-takers cannot determine, after repeated attempts, whether a particular household is occupied or not, they "impute" a number of residents to it based on the characteristics of neighboring households.

Utah argues that this violates both the constitutional requirement for "an actual enumeration" of each U.S. resident every 10 years and a federal law banning statistical "sampling" by the Census for purposes of apportioning House seats.

The Bush administration, joined by North Carolina, argues that the method is not like sampling, in which a large population's characteristics are projected based on characteristics found in a randomly selected portion. Instead, they say, "hot-deck imputation" is a non-random means of filling in specific incomplete data. In the 2000 Census, imputation accounted for 0.4 percent of the population total of 281.4 million.

Last year, a three-judge panel in a Utah federal district court upheld the method. But Utah appealed to the Supreme Court under special rules permitting it to bypass a lower federal appeals court.

The court last dealt with the politically charged issue of Census methods in 1999, when the Republican-controlled House brought suit against the Clinton administration to block "sampling," which is thought to favor Democrats because it slightly raises the head count in inner cities and other pro-Democratic areas.

In that case, a five-member majority of the court ruled that sampling violated federal law, but did not decide the constitutional issue. However, only Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a perennial swing vote, agreed entirely with that approach; dissenting and concurring opinions showed that the court's most conservative members doubted whether the Constitution permits any kind of statistical estimation, while the court's four most liberal members thought it might.

Because the Utah case came up as a direct appeal from the district court, the court must first agree to take jurisdiction over the case -- even before getting to the substance of it.

Yesterday's order, however, postponed a decision on the jurisdictional issue until after the hearing, meaning that the court has preserved the option of dismissing Utah's claim without necessarily having to write an opinion on "hot-deck imputation."

Also, the court's normal internal timetable would not allow enough time to dispose of this case before the justices go on a three-month summer recess at the end of June. But yesterday's order left it up to the parties to ask the court for an expedited hearing so that the case can be settled in time for elections to proceed.

Utah Chief Civil Deputy Attorney General Raymond A. Hintze said the state will file a motion to expedite the hearing immediately. "We believe they'll hear it in the current term," Hintze said. "They know that for Utah and North Carolina there would be a lot of problems if this were left in limbo."

The North Carolina attorney general, Roy Cooper, was dismissive of the Utah case. "In the hope that one would finally stick, Utah has continued to fling every possible legal theory against the wall," Cooper said. "So far, they've all slid to the floor and we believe the U.S. Supreme Court will not allow this theory to hold up either."

The case is Utah v. Evans, No. 01-714.

Separately, the Supreme Court yesterday ruled that states seeking to confine a convicted sexual predator for psychiatric treatment after his prison sentence must show that the offender has "serious difficulty" controlling his impulses to commit sex crimes.

The 7-2 decision rolled back a ruling by the Kansas state supreme court, which had held that such confinement would violate an offender's constitutional rights unless the state could prove that he "cannot" control himself because of a mental disorder.

"An absolutist approach is unworkable," Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote for the court majority. Under the high court's 1997 decision that generally upheld Kansas's Sexually Violent Predator Act, Breyer wrote, "[i]t is enough to say that there must be proof of serious difficulty in controlling behavior."

However, the court also rejected Kansas's claim that it did not have to show any degree of lack of control by the offender, leaving juries and lower courts in the 19 states, including Maryland, that have sexual predator laws like Kansas's to sort out the practical effect of yesterday's ruling.

In dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, accused the court of "gutting" its 1997 ruling. The court, Scalia wrote, "gives trial courts . . . not a clue as to how they are supposed to charge the jury!"

The case is Kansas v. Crane, No. 00-957.

Associated Press
Court Will Consider Census Practice
By Anne Gearan
January 22, 2002

The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to consider whether census takers may estimate the size of one household based on that of its neighbors, an inexact technique critics say flouts the Constitution's requirement for an ``actual enumeration.''

The household estimation method is used as a last resort when census workers repeatedly fail to find anyone home.

The court will hear an appeal from Utah, which claims that methods used in the 2000 census robbed the state of one of its congressional seats. The court also wants both sides to give their views on whether the Supreme Court has jurisdiction over the case.

If the justices conclude that they do not have jurisdiction, the decision of a lower court against Utah would stand.

The court is expected to hear the case next fall, and its ruling would not affect races to fill congressional seats in the November election.

Utah lost a separate census challenge last year, when the high court refused to hear complaints that the census wrongly excluded Mormon missionaries working overseas.

In the latest Utah case, a panel of three federal judges voted 2-1 in November to dismiss the state's lawsuit challenging the household estimation technique.

The lower court said it is reasonable to assume that households in the same neighborhood will be of similar size.

In its appeal to the Supreme Court, the state argued that the phrase ``actual enumeration'' means the Constitution's framers specifically ruled out guesswork.

``There simply is no plausible understanding of the term,'' that would permit the use of estimated numbers in apportioning House seats, lawyers for the state wrote.

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has said the estimation method disproportionately benefited North Carolina, which picked up a seat in Congress after the head count.

The state also argued the estimation method is little different than another statistical tool called ``sampling.'' The Supreme Court split 5-4 to rule in 1999 that sampled census numbers cannot be used to parcel out congressional seats.

The 435 House seats are redistributed according to state population after each decennial census.

At the time, the Census Bureau and the Democratic Clinton administration said sampling would help make up for an expected undercount of minorities in the 2000 head count. Democrats generally support the practice while Republicans oppose it.

In the current case, the Republican Bush administration defended use of the household estimation technique, and urged the Supreme Court to uphold the lower court.

In the 2000 census, the estimation accounted for less than half a percent of the total U.S. population. But that may have been enough to give North Carolina the extra seat.

In the formula used to determine House seats, Utah finished just 857 residents behind North Carolina, another fast-growing state. The figures gave North Carolina its 13th seat and left Utah with three.

Utah has fought its loss through several courts, and hoped the Supreme Court would accept its appeal as part of the current term. That would have meant a ruling by July, in time to affect the fall elections.

The court apparently did not see the same urgency. Results of the congressional reapportionment are already set, which may lead the court to conclude there is nothing to be settled by continuing with the case.

The Supreme Court affirmed another lower court ruling against Utah in November. In that case, Utah claimed that it was unfair to count federal workers and military personnel posted overseas while excluding others temporarily living outside the United States.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper intervened in both lawsuits in defense of the census results.

Salt Lake Tribune
Reform of Redistricting Falters
By Greg Burton
January 12, 2002

Even as the chorus of boos echoes over the way Utah's Legislature redrew the state's political boundaries, interest in exploring ways to improve the process is waning.

Just this week U.S. Rep. Jim Hansen, one of the state's longest serving Republican lawmakers, lambasted fellow Republicans involved in the drastic remapping of Utah's congressional districts, including Hansen's 1st District.

The Legislature's meddling played a role in his decision to leave Congress, Hansen said. "It was an irritant. If there was ever an argument for letting someone other than the Legislature do [redistricting], this is one. They were arrogant and had super egos on that congressional redistricting thing."

Regardless, Utah's Constitutional Revision Commission on Friday declined to endorse a proposal to hand the redistricting job over to a seven-member independent committee. Rep. Karen Morgan, D-Cottonwood Heights, believes her resolution would protect the integrity of the state's redistricting handiwork.

Last year, Utah's Republican-controlled Legislature combined eight Democrats into four legislative districts, guaranteeing the loss of four minority party lawmakers from a body that is already more than two-thirds Republican. Hansen's mostly rural district, which covered the entire western side of the state, was pushed exclusively to the north and combined with tens of thousands of mostly urban and Democratic voters from Salt Lake County.

"It's time to do something -- we can sweep it under the rug for another 10 years or we can step up to the plate," said Morgan, who was reconfigured into a district that includes House Minority Whip Patrice Arent. "I'm not sponsoring this resolution to retaliate against the majority party in any way. It's just that I believe the process is flawed. I believe there is a conflict of interest in having legislators draw their own boundaries."

But commissioners barely acknowledged Morgan, asking instead that she study the issue further before proceeding.

The commission's uninterest surprised Rep. Ron Bigelow, R-West Valley City, who proposed a similar resolution before dropping his idea in favor of Morgan's. "It appears the support for the idea is very weak [among lawmakers]," Bigelow said. "It's interesting the more we distance ourselves from that process the more the individuals feel it wasn't as bad as they thought it was, even myself."

Hansen, though, remains furious and singled out for criticism House Assistant Majority Whip Greg Curtis, R-Sandy, who also happens to sit on the commission. Curtis was not immediately available for comment.

The congressman said he offered a redistricting proposal of his own, but "they only looked at my proposal for 10 seconds. I couldn't believe the arrogance of Greg Curtis, who said we were not going to give Jim Hansen anything."

With or without the commission's endorsement, Morgan promised to introduce her resolution during the 2002 Legislature.

"I have no intention to attack the Republican Party on this," she said. "I'm not trying to reopen the wounds from the redistricting session, I just want to do what is best for the people and best for the process."

Roll Call
Between the Lines
By John Mercurio
December 3, 2001

Another "No" for Utah

The Supreme Court last week dealt yet another setback to the state's quest for a fourth House seat, upholding a lower court's rejection of Utah's claim that the Census Bureau should have counted Mormon missionaries living overseas.The High Court's summary ruling, which came last Monday with no comment from the justices, was a victory for North Carolina, whose 12-Member delegation gained the seat that would have gone to Utah.

The 2000 census excluded 11,176 Mormon missionaries living abroad, leaving Utah 857 people short of the number it needed for another House seat. A three-judge federal panel said earlier this year that Mormon missionaries are viewed differently from overseas federal employees who are counted, as the latter group is abroad at the behest of the government and make up a large portion of the estimated 5 million overseas Americans. Utah is now relying solely on its second legal challenge, which alleges that the bureau illegally used estimates to determine the size of households where residents could not be contacted. That case is still before the Supreme Court.

San Francisco Chronicle
Republican Redistricting Could Help Utah Democratic Congressman
By Patty Henetz
November 30, 2001

When Utah's Republicans redrew the state's political map this fall, the plan was widely viewed as a way to weaken U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson, the state's only prominent Democrat.

That might not be the way it works out. Matheson lost most of his urban Salt Lake City voters, who tend to vote for Democrats. But Republicans added his family's rural hometown to his territory, where his last name carries more weight than his political affiliation.

Like every other state, Utah's Republican-controlled legislature redrew political boundaries this year to adjust to population shifts recorded by the 2000 census.

Democrats at first objected to the plan, though they couldn't block the new map. It divided the Salt Lake City area up, giving a bit to each of the state's three congressmen. It was seen as an effort to dilute Democratic voters by lumping them in the heavily Republican rural areas.

Rural residents, fearing the three congressmen would all come from the Salt Lake City area, weren't much happier with the final map.

Republicans, however, portrayed the dispersion of urbanites as a healthy way to blend city and country interests in all three congressional districts.

Matheson's new district includes a third of Salt Lake City, but then spreads south, taking in the southern third of the state as well as the counties along the eastern border with Colorado.

Matheson's father, Scott, governor of Utah from 1977 to 1985, is buried along with five generations of his family in the cemetery in Parowan, 200 miles south of Salt Lake City and in the heart of the new district.

"This is considered a Republican stronghold. But they needed to look back at where the Mathesons lie on the (historic) continuum," said Gerald Sherratt, mayor-elect of Cedar City, just south of Parowan.

"His father carried Iron County rather substantially in years past," Sherratt said. "Republicans might have created a Democratic district by putting Jim Matheson in here."

Area residents call Parowan "the mother town of southern Utah." Mormon prophet Brigham Young sent pioneers south from Salt Lake 150 years ago to establish and iron mining community. From Parowan, family roots spread throughout the West.

"The roots tie back to here," said Parowan Mayor Glen L. Halterman. "And that name is tied to this area. Jim probably has a pretty good chance at this end of the state because of his name. I'm Republican, and at this point I wouldn't have any problems supporting Jim."

That's the kind of talk Democrats and Matheson like to hear, even as Republican leaders dismiss their hopes as wishful thinking.

"Sometimes blood is thicker than politics," Matheson said Thursday. "I'm looking forward to this. I have a real affection for those parts of the state, so there's a real emotional pull for me."

In truth, until the March 18 filing deadline, no one knows who will challenge Matheson or the state's other two congressional incumbents, much less how voters of the newly aligned districts will behave.

Republicans who may run against Matheson include former Republican congressman Merrill Cook; Salt Lake County Councilman Winston Wilkinson; and Greg Hawkins, who challenged U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch last year at the state nominating convention.

Sherratt discounted them all. "People down here don't know any of those," he said. "They do know the Mathesons. Parowan will be out campaigning for him. They vote for their own, and Jim comes from a family they know and trust."

Daily Herald
Census Issue Not Over Yet
By Donald W. Meyers
November 27, 2001

Utah may have lost its argument for counting overseas missionaries in the U.S. Census, but it still may get a fourth congressional seat.

Ray Hintze, chief deputy Attorney General, said Utah's case that the U. S. Census Bureau used illegal statistical counting methods is proceeding to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"We've always felt better about the second case, because decisions by the Supreme Court before the census supported our position," Hintze said.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday against the state seeking to allow Utahns serving LDS missions overseas to be counted in the census. The state argued that by not counting those Utahns it caused the state to come up 857 people short of an additional congressional seat.

North Carolina, home to several U.S. military bases, was allowed to count residents on overseas deployments in its census figures.

The court upheld a lower court ruling against Utah's argument, Hintze said.

The Bush administration asked the court to dismiss the case or to uphold the lower court's ruling against Utah.

The Supreme Court took the latter option, with a one-sentence order that gave no insight to the court's reasoning.

However, Hintze said the second case, which alleges the U.S. Census Bureau used illegal imputation to arrive at Utah's numbers, is proceeding.

The second case states that Census workers, when encountering a house where no one answered the door or filled out a form, used data from a neighboring house to "impute" the number of people living there.

"It is not scientific," Hintze said. "It is nothing more than just a guess."

The Supreme Court has already issued rulings that the bureau cannot use statistical sampling when it conducts its head count every 10 years. While Census officials argue that imputation is not sampling, Hintze is confident he can make that case in the high court.

U.S. Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, said the missionary argument's weakness was the fact that counting missionaries and servicemen was a matter of departmental discretion.

"I think the weight of the law is on our side" in the imputation case, Cannon said.

But he hasn't given up on the missionaries. Cannon said his threat to cut the Census Bureau's funding if it doesn't come up with a way to count missionaries still stands.

"This victory is another step toward assuring that North Carolina will have a 13th member of Congress," North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said. "But the fight is still not over, unfortunately."

The Associated Press contributed to this report .

Salt Lake Tribune
Supreme Court Rejects 1 of 2 Utah Census Suits
By Joe Baird
November 27, 2001

Utah has been fighting a losing battle for the past year in its bid for a fourth U.S. House seat. Now the state is down to its final card.

The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed on Monday the first of two lawsuits Utah filed against the Commerce Department about the 2000 census. The justices rejected, without comment, the state's argument that the Census Bureau violated the Constitution and denied Utah another congressional seat when it counted federal employees working overseas, but not "similarly situated" individuals -- such as the state's 11,000 LDS missionaries serving abroad.

Utah's second suit, alleging the Census Bureau illegally used estimates to determine the size of households where residents could not be contacted, still sits before the Supreme Court. But given the number of defeats the state has absorbed in this fight -- three counting Monday's decision and two earlier district court rejections -- a trend is emerging.

"We're severely disappointed," Utah Chief Deputy Attorney General Ray Hintze said. "We had the [overseas] case briefed extremely well. These are critical issues. We thought the court would allow us to present it. So this caught us off guard."

The frustrating thing, Hintze added, is that state attorneys who spent hundreds of hours preparing the appeal have no way of knowing why their arguments were rejected. "With a one-sentence summary dismissal, we don't know if we were close to hitting the target or out in left field," he said.

More ominous for the state, though, may be what Monday's ruling portends. By upholding the decision of a three-judge panel last spring, the high court may also be endorsing the "wide discretion" the nation's founders gave Congress -- and by delegation, the Commerce Department -- in conducting the once-a-decade census.

Sparking both Utah lawsuits: a 2000 count that left Utah 857 residents shy of qualifying for a fourth House district. The seat instead went to North Carolina, which now has 13 House districts.

Utah argued that if its missionaries were counted, or if federal employees living abroad were removed from the census, it would have received the extra House seat. Similarly, the state maintains in its second suit that if the estimated, or "imputed," count were thrown out, it would again claim a fourth House seat.

"I can understand officials in Utah wanting another congressional seat, but we believe that it's clear that the law is on our side," said North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, whose state has intervened in both suits. "The census was conducted properly. And we believe that the U.S. Supreme Court will reach the same conclusion in the second case."

But Utah officials remain optimistic that their last hope will also be their best chance.

Had the Supreme Court ruled in the state's favor Monday, it would perhaps have required perhaps a recount of all Americans living overseas, or possible apportionment headaches elsewhere if the large number of federal employees working abroad were removed from the census.

By contrast, the imputation dispute affects only Utah and North Carolina for purposes of congressional redistricting.

"One of the reasons the overseas case was weaker was because it is much more complex in terms of legal remedy," said Tom Lee, Utah's lead attorney in the census suits. "The imputation case is much more straightforward. Either it's lawful to estimate or it's not. If it's lawful, North Carolina gets the seat. If it's not lawful, you wipe out the estimations and Utah gets the seats. Either way, it's pretty simple."

Utah's suit on the estimate issue was shot down by a separate three-judge panel earlier this month. But the state maintains, in its appeal, that the Census Bureau's use of what it calls "hot deck imputation" is another form of sampling that violates the Census Act and a 1999 Supreme Court decision. Utah also argued that imputation violates the constitutional requirement of an "actual enumeration" for the census counts.

The only thing not in dispute in Utah's quest for more congressional representation is this: It is getting expensive.

Hintze says the state has spent $600,000 thus far in filing the suits and appealing the decisions. But Gov. Mike Leavitt says he has no regrets.

"I continue to believe it was the right thing to do, and I take some comfort in knowing that our strongest case is still to appear before the court," he said.

Rocky Mountain News
High Court Rejects Utahís Bid for N.C. Congressional Seat
By John Wagner
November 26, 2001

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned back the first of two attempts by Utah to lay claim to North Carolina's new 13th congressional seat.

In a one-sentence ruling, the court rejected Utah's argument that the U.S. Census Bureau should have included overseas Mormon missionaries in its 2000 state population counts. Had the bureau done so, Utah would have been awarded a new congressional seat that instead went to North Carolina.

While Tar Heel leaders cheered Monday's decision, they cautioned that Utah still has another case pending before the high court. In the second case, Utah challenges the Census Bureau's long-standing practice of estimating the number of residents in households it could not contact.

"This is a good win for North Carolina," Attorney General Roy Cooper said after Monday's ruling. "Unfortunately, the fight is still not over. Today's victory means there's one down and one to go. ... We're hoping for a similar outcome in the second case."

A ruling on that case is not expected for at least two months.

Utah officials asserted Monday that their second case is the stronger of the two but did not hide their disappointment at losing the first.

"We are severely disappointed," said Raymond Hintze, Utah's chief deputy attorney general. "We spent hundreds of hours on this."

Utah had asked the Supreme Court to hear oral arguments on both cases early next year. But with Monday's ruling, the court in essence decided that additional arguments are not needed - at least in the first case.

Without explanation, the high court simply affirmed a unanimous ruling against Utah delivered in April by a three-judge federal panel in Salt Lake City.

The 435 seats that make up the U.S. House of Representatives are redistributed once every decade to reflect population shifts.

Under a formula used by the Census Bureau, Utah would have received a fourth congressional seat if it had another 857 residents as of April 2000.

In conducting head counts, the government included overseas federal workers, including military personnel, with ties to a home state. But no one else temporarily living overseas, including corporate workers or religious missionaries, was tallied.

According to church records, 11,176 Mormon missionaries from Utah were working overseas as of April 2000 - while North Carolina could claim only about 100.

North Carolina officials told the three-judge panel that they have no philosophical objection to counting all overseas citizens but argued there is no practical way to do so at this point. Furthermore, North Carolina officials argued it would be patently unfair to count Mormon missionaries but not those of other religious faiths.

In its second case, Utah takes issue with the Census Bureau's practice of "hot-deck imputation." In situations where the bureau is unable to contact a household after several attempts, it assigns a count of residents based on a similar home in the neighborhood.

"That's not even scientific," Hintze said. "It's nothing but a rough guess."

In the 2000 census, the bureau relied on real resident counts for more than 99 percent of households.

But the relatively small number of estimates was sufficient to tip the scales in North Carolina's favor. The bureau wound up adding 32,457 residents to North Carolina's tally, but only 5,385 to Utah's count

Without the adjustment, Utah would have received the new congressional seat.

"We think that raw numbers are the best thing to do," Hintze said Monday.

Cooper countered that the practice in question has been used since 1940 and is not prohibited by law.

In a 2-1 decision, a panel of judges sided with North Carolina on Nov. 1. Utah immediately appealed the case to the Supreme Court.

In North Carolina, the General Assembly is currently struggling to agree on a new congressional map for use in next year's elections. A Supreme Court ruling in Utah's favor would inject more chaos in the process.

To date, all the maps considered by lawmakers have included 13 districts. State Sen. Brad Miller, a Raleigh Democrat who chairs the Senate redistricting committee, said there is no contingency plan for drawing 12 seats.

Based on advice from a "pretty confident" attorney general's office, "all the plans we've drawn have been 13-seat plans," Miller said.

Salt Lake Tribune
End Incumbent Protection
By Editorial Staff
November 25, 2001

The goal of redrawing legislative district boundaries every 10 years is to ensure equal representation for each voter. Unfortunately, legislators have a different goal: ensuring their own re-election.

In a nutshell, that conflict explains gerrymandering. And that, in turn, explains why an increasing number of states are taking redistricting power away from their state legislatures and entrusting it to independent commissions. Given the blatant gerrymandering by Utah's Legislature this year, it is time for the Beehive State to turn redistricting over to such a commission.

Utahns do not have to look far for examples. Their neighbors in Arizona and Idaho both have taken this path.

Two Utah legislators have sketched proposals for such a commission. Rep. Karen Morgan of Cottonwood Heights would turn the job over to a seven-member body. The two major political parties each would appoint three members and the Utah Supreme Court would appoint the seventh.

There are two problems with this proposal. First, it is a bad idea to drag the Supreme Court into this most political and partisan of matters, even as an appointing body. Second, Morgan is a Democrat, so the Republican-dominated Legislature will not give her bill the slightest consideration.

The other proposal is by Rep. Ron Bigelow, a West Valley City Republican. He has talked about a 15-member commission that would recommend boundary proposals for the Legislature's consideration. Given the Republican leadership's hostility to any commission plan, it is understandable that Bigelow would empower his commission to make recommendations only. There's little point in that, however. If you're going to ask a group of citizens to bite off this difficult job, you should give them the whole enchilada. They should decide the boundaries, period. Keep the Legislature out of it.

A 15-member commission also would be unwieldy. By comparison, the Idaho commission has six members, the Arizona commission has five.

Both have rules that bar legislators and lobbyists from serving. Arizona prohibits not only lawmakers, other public officials, candidates and lobbyists, but it bars any former commissioner from holding such a post for three years after he or she leaves the commission. So far, Bigelow has not said whether similar rules would apply to his proposal, but they should.

There are commissions in other states besides Idaho and Arizona that Utah can study for examples for what has worked and what has not. In the meantime, Morgan and Bigelow at least deserve credit for getting the discussion started.

New York Times
Utah G.O.P. Endangers a Democrat
By Michael Janofsky
November 23, 2001

With the state's largest concentration of Democrats, non-whites and non-Mormons, metropolitan Salt Lake City sent Jim Matheson to Congress last year, making him the only Utah Democrat to serve in a federal or statewide elected office.

By next year, Mr. Matheson could be gone, giving Republicans their first sweep in recent memory.

As the majority in the State Legislature, Republicans used the redistricting process that follows every national census to slice up Mr. Matheson's Second District, creating a new Congressional map that appears to make it harder for him to win again while protecting the Republicans in Utah's other districts: James V. Hansen of the First and Christopher B. Cannon of the Third.

The plan set off predictable reactions around the state. Republicans defended it as fair, equitable and no more partisan than districts designed by majority parties in other states. Democrats howled.

But now, after a closer examination of the new map, leading Utah Democrats have changed their tune, saying the plan could backfire on Republicans and reverse a trend that has made Utah one of the strongest one-party states in the country. Meghan Holbrook, chairman of the Utah Democratic Party, said she doubted that her party would challenge the new map in court.

Ms. Holbrook said party leaders believed not only that Mr. Matheson had a strong chance of winning again but that the new Second District, greatly expanded in size, could provide him a base if he chose to run for governor in 2004. Gov. Michael O. Leavitt is expected to seek a fourth four-year term.

She also said that by shrinking the other two districts and adding more Democrats, the Republicans might have made things more challenging for the Republican incumbents.

Mr. Hansen, whose current district has only a sliver of metropolitan Salt Lake City, inherits new sections that are thick with Democratic voters, including downtown, and growing Hispanic communities on Salt Lake City's west side. Mr. Cannon will be defending a district that includes only a third of his current base, making him relatively unknown to a majority of the voters.

As a result, Ms. Holbrook said, Mr. Hansen, an 11-term congressman, might have one of his toughest races, and Mr. Cannon, who was first elected in 1996, might actually have more than nominal opposition.

"When Jim Matheson won last year, it showed that people are willing to look at other candidates who make them feel comfortable," Ms. Holbrook said. "If he wins again, Republicans could find the law of unintended consequences working against them. If he could win the governorship, that would begin to change things dramatically."

Mr. Matheson, whose father, Scott, was Utah's last Democratic governor, from 1976 to 1984, has said little about a possible statewide run. But he has warmed to the challenge of winning in a Congressional district that was expanded from a compact urban area of 250 square miles to a mostly rural district of 50,000 square miles that includes five national parks and about half the state.

"It's a lot of new territory," he said. "But it's an area of the state where I feel I have a real good opportunity."

The Matheson family has its roots in southern Utah, which is part of the newly drawn district. Generations ago, Mathesons were among the first Mormons to settle outside the Salt Lake valley, moving south to the town of Parowan in the 1850's.

"Five generations of Mathesons are buried in the Parowan cemetery," Mr. Matheson said. "My father ran very well down there."

Gerry A. Adair, a Republican member of the State House and chairman of the House-Senate redistricting committee, dismissed accusations of partisanship in the redistricting process, saying the new map adequately represents a state in which Republicans outnumber Democrats 20 to 9 in the State Senate and 51 to 24 in the State House.

But Mr. Adair cautioned that even with their majority status and the governorship, Republicans must remain sensitive to alternative views in a fast-growing state. From 1990 to 2000, Utah's population increased 29.6 percent, to 2.23 million from 1.7 million, less than 1,000 people short of qualifying the state for a fourth seat in Congress. "We tried to be fair," Mr. Adair said of the redistricting process. "We let the minority be heard, but the majority rules in the United States of America. That's why we're a free country."

Deseret News
Proportional Elections?
By Laurent Lechifflart Petrovogorska
November 15, 2001

I followed with much interest the debate over the redistricting process in Utah and the accusations raised by the minority party that the purpose of this is only to increase the weight of the majority party.

Strange to me is that no one ever proposes a proportional system of voting, as used in most European democracies (unfortunately, not much yet in my native France).

This is the way it works: Each party submits a statewide list of as many candidates as there are seats in each house of the legislature. People vote, and the seats are divided between the lists, proportionally to the votes they received. No one can accuse this system of being unfair.

True, it would be hard for a voter to say which one of the representatives or senators is "his" or "hers." On the other hand, the absence of geographical limits will enable a constituent to pick the lawmaker(s) he agrees the most with.

Another good point with proportional elections is that they can enrich the democratic debate by allowing more than two parties in the legislature. Also, if a legislator dies or resigns for whatever reason, there is no need to elect a new one, you just take the next candidate on the list.

Incidentally, the same system applied to the electoral college would avoid electing a president with fewer voters than his challenger.

Laurent Lechifflart Petrovogorska
Zagreb, Croatia

Roll Call
Between the Lines (excerpt)
By John Mercurio
November 12, 2001

Country Boy

Despite earlier threats to drag the GOP-controlled Utah Legislature into court over redistricting, Rep. Jim Matheson (D) said last week that he won't mount a legal challenge to a Republican map that transforms his Salt Lake City-based swing district into a rural, Republican stronghold.

Matheson's decision means he will have to wage a very different kind of campaign in a very different district. The GOP performance of his district increases from 52 to 60 percent, and its land mass expands from 250 square miles to a whopping 50,000. "It's the size of the state of Alabama," Matheson said.

Matheson, who spent more than $1.3 million in a 2000 race against multimillionaire Derek Smith (R), had $300,000 on hand as of June 30.

Meanwhile, a movement has started among Utah Republicans to create a nonpartisan redistricting process 10 years from now. State Rep. Ron Bigelow (R), who sat on the redistricting committee this year, will introduce a constitutional amendment in 2002 to create a 15-member independent commission to redraw the political boundaries in 2011.

Deseret News
Independent Redistrictors Urged for 2011; GOP lawmaker wants to amend state constitution
By Bob Bernick, Jr.
November 8, 2001

A leader in this year's Republican-dominated legislative redistricting of Utah's congressional and legislative seats says an independent commission would improve the much-hated process.

Rep. Ron Bigelow, R-West Valley, who sat on the Legislative Redistricting Committee and oversaw the redrawing of state House districts in Salt Lake County, will introduce a constitutional amendment in the 2002 Legislature to create a 15-member independent commission to oversee the 2011 redistricting.

Wednesday afternoon, Bigelow presented his plan to the Constitutional Revision Commission. Rep. Karen Morgan, D-Cottonwood Heights, also presented her previously reported amendment that would create a redistricting commission.

Bigelow read to the CRC parts of a Wall Street Journal editorial published Wednesday that lambasted the redistricting process across the nation and singled out Utah as an especially offensive job of "gerrymandering" to harm Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson in his 2nd Congressional District.

The newspaper said Utah, Michigan and Georgia legislatures -- two Republican, the third Democratic -- used self-interest in redrawing congressional districts to harm the minority party incumbents and shore up their own party incumbents. Commissions are the way to go, the editorial said.

Eleven states had commissions of one kind or another in 2001, and a few more are looking at creating them after the historically bitter redistricting fights in their legislatures.

Utah House Speaker Marty Stephens, R-Farr West, is not sold on redistricting commissions, saying at a recent legislative conference he polled participants to find that most states' redistricting is being challenged in court whether or not legislators or "independent" commissioners did the work.

Commissions are immune from voters, Stephens, a member of the CRC, said Wednesday. "If (citizens) don't like what legislators do (in redistricting), they can vote them out of office," he said.

Morgan would have a five-member commission, Bigelow a 15-member commission. Besides their constitutional amendments, Rep. Richard Siddoway, R-Bountiful, says he wants to create, by law, an advisory commission that would draw the boundaries for another state and have that state's advisory commission draw boundaries for Utah. Siddoway would not change the Utah Constitution, and lawmakers would have the final say.

So far Bigelow is the only leading GOP legislator who will sponsor a constitutional amendment to create a redistricting commission. Currently, the state constitution gives redistricting authority to the Legislature itself.

"Ideally, the commission's work would be what would happen," Bigelow told the Deseret News earlier this week. In other words, legislators themselves would get no say in how their own district boundaries would be redrawn. But if that won't fly, Bigelow has fallback positions, which include having the commission make recommendations to the Legislature, which would have the final say. It is that "recommendation commission" that Bigelow presented to the CRC. Democrats complained loud and hard this past year that GOP legislators drew boundaries to help themselves -- even down to the point of tweaking lines to get their brother's house into their district or more LDS Church ward members into their districts -- so they could get more sure votes.

GOP legislative leaders said while the process was unpleasant, in the end Utahns were well served in the process and that Democrats -- whose current districts didn't grow as fast as some suburban and rural GOP districts -- were not too badly harmed.

Last month's special legislative session saw tears, angry speeches and hurt feelings. In the end, Democrats are sure to lose one incumbent senator and three incumbent House members through combining of districts. Districts of two Utah County House Republicans were also combined, but one had already announced he wasn't seeking re-election in 2002.

Bigelow said he doesn't have a good sense for how his constitutional amendment will be met by fellow GOP lawmakers. Republicans have controlled the Legislature for 25 years, dictating redistricting in 1981, 1991 and 2001.

"I've talked to a few and they raised their eyebrows. I need two-thirds votes, and so some compromises" may have to be reached, Bigelow said.

"But even if the commission's plan were only a recommendation to the Legislature, any amendments to it would be public and the person making the amendment would have to stand up in public and strongly defend those changes," Bigelow said. Democrats, and even some Republicans, complained during the weeks leading up to the special session -- even in the special session itself -- that they didn't know who exactly was proposing amendments and redrawing maps. Many legislators walked up Capitol stairs to draw behind locked doors on computers how their own districts should look.

Sometimes no one knew who exactly drew the maps. To this day, GOP leaders won't say who drew the three-person congressional map that pushed Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson's district out of Salt Lake County and into rural Utah.

Such anonymity would be gone under his commission, said Bigelow.

"I would prefer that the commission makeup be 50 percent-plus-one for the majority party, the rest being minority party members and independents. No legislators would serve on it." The minority party should have significant say on the commission to make the public feel the process is open and fair, Bigelow said.

A change is needed because of the perceived conflict of interest is just too great in a Legislature-driven redistricting process, whether it is really there or not, Bigelow said. Bigelow believes the 2001 effort was fair, but it was not perceived as fair by the public or the media, he said.

If in 2011 "some Democrats get dinged, put together (in one district) by a commission, I think the public would say "yeah, that's how it had to be" because of census numbers and shifts in populations, he said.

Bob Bernick, Jr. can be reached at [email protected]

Deseret News
Could a Commission Improve Redistricting?
By Bob Bernick, Jr.
November 7, 2001

A leader in this year's Republican-dominated legislative redistricting of Utah's congressional and legislative seats says an independent commission would improve the much-hated process.

Rep. Ron Bigelow, R-West Valley, who sat on the Legislative Redistricting Committee and oversaw the redrawing of state House districts in Salt Lake County, will introduce a constitutional amendment in the 2002 Legislature to create a 15-member independent commission to oversee the 2011 redistricting.

Eleven states had commissions of one kind or another in 2001, and a few more are looking at creating them after the historically bitter redistricting fights in their legislatures.

Utah House Speaker Marty Stephens, R-Farr West, is not sold on redistricting commissions, saying at a recent legislative conference he polled participants to find that most states' redistricting is being challenged in court whether or not legislators or "independent" commissioners did the work.

Democratic lawmakers, in the minority in the 104-member Legislature, say they too will sponsor a constitutional amendment that would create a commission. And Rep. Richard Siddoway, R-Bountiful, says he wants to create, by law, an advisory commission that would draw the boundaries for another state, and have that state's advisory commission draw boundaries for Utah. Siddoway would not change the Utah Constitution.

So far Bigelow is the only leading GOP legislator who will sponsor a constitutional amendment to take the redistricting responsibility away from Utah legislators. Currently, the state constitution gives redistricting authority to the Legislature itself.

"Ideally, the commission's work would be what would happen," Bigelow said. In other words, legislators themselves would get no say in how their own district boundaries would be redrawn. But if that won't fly, Bigelow has fallback positions, which include having the commission make recommendations to the Legislature, which would have the final say.

Democrats complained loud and hard this past year that GOP legislators drew boundaries to help themselves -- even down to the point of tweaking lines to get their brother's house into their district or more LDS Church ward members into their districts -- so they could get more sure votes.

GOP legislative leaders said while the process was unpleasant, in the end Utahns were well served in the process and that Democrats -- whose current districts didn't grow as fast as some suburban and rural GOP districts -- were not too badly harmed.

Last month's special legislative session saw tears, angry speeches and hurt feelings. In the end, Democrats are sure to lose one incumbent senator and three incumbent House members through combining of districts. Districts of two Utah County House Republicans were also combined, but one had already announced he wasn't seeking re-election in 2002.

Bigelow said he doesn't have a good sense for how his constitutional amendment will be met by fellow GOP lawmakers. Republicans have controlled the Legislature for 25 years, dictating redistricting in 1981, 1991 and 2001.

"I've talked to a few and they raised their eyebrows. I need two-thirds votes, and so some compromises" may have to be reached, Bigelow said.

"But even if the commission's plan were only a recommendation to the Legislature, any amendments to it would be public and the person making the amendment would have to stand up in public and strongly defend those changes," Bigelow said.

Democrats, and even some Republicans, complained during the weeks leading up to the special session -- even in the special session itself -- that they didn't know who exactly was proposing amendments and redrawing maps. Many legislators walked up Capitol stairs to draw behind locked doors on computers how their own districts should look.

Sometimes no one knew who exactly drew the maps. To this day, GOP leaders won't say who drew the three-person congressional map that pushed Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson's district out of Salt Lake County and into rural Utah.

Such anonymity would be gone under his commission, said Bigelow.

"I would prefer that the commission makeup be 50 percent-plus-one for the majority party, the rest being minority party members and independents. No legislators would serve on it." The minority party should have significant say on the commission to make the public feel the process is open and fair, Bigelow said.

A change is needed because of the perceived conflict of interest is just too great in a Legislature-driven redistricting process, whether it is really there or not, Bigelow said. Bigelow believes the 2001 effort was fair, but it was not perceived as fair by the public or the media, he said.

If in 2011 "some Democrats get dinged, put together (in one district) by a commission, I think the public would say "yeah, that's how it had to be" because of census numbers and shifts in populations, he said.

Bob Bernick, Jr. can be reached at [email protected]

Roll Call
Between the Lines (excerpt)
By John Mercurio
November 5, 2001

Targeting Hansen

In a sign of either resurgent confidence or sheer desperation, Utah Democrats have decided to target 11-term Rep. Jim Hansen (R), who took 69 percent in his 2000 re-election contest but gained thousands of new Democratic voters under a recent remap.

"We can win this thing" in the 2002 election, said Utah Democratic Party Executive Director Todd Taylor.

Trying to divide Rep. Jim Matheson's (D) base of Democratic voters and derail his 2002 prospects, Republicans who control the state Legislature and governor's office approved a map that gives Hansen more than half of Salt Lake City, a Democratic bastion, and removes the GOP strongholds of Washington and Iron counties in southwest Utah.

But even those maneuverings may not be enough to seriously jeopardize Hansen, who has not faced a serious challenge since 1990.

Roll Call
Between the Lines (excerpt)
By John Mercurio
November 5, 2001

'No' to Utah

Lawyers for Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt (R) will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a three-judge panel's decision last Thursday that rejected the state's bid for a fourth House seat.

The court's 2-1 vote marks the second setback in Utah's bid for another House seat. Earlier this year another court unanimously rejected the state's claim that the Census Bureau violated the U.S. Constitution when it counted federal employees living overseas but neglected to include 11,000 Utah residents who are Latter Day Saint missionaries.

The Census Bureau counted 857 fewer Utah residents than North Carolina, which gained a 13th House district in reapportionment.

Utah officials said the fight is far from over. "We always knew this would be decided by the Supreme Court," Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff (R) said.

North Carolina leaders said Utah should admit defeat. "While Utah can appeal this ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, we hope that leaders there will take no for an answer and abandon these efforts," North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) said in a statement.

 

Deseret News
Matheson to Run, Not Litigate; Borders unfair, he says, but a lawsuit likely would fail
By Bob Bernick, Jr.
November 5, 2001

Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson will not sue the state over the GOP Legislature's redrawing of his 2nd Congressional District boundaries, the freshman congressman said Monday.

"I'll put my energies into being a candidate and running a good campaign in my new district," said Matheson, D-Utah. He predicts he'll win in the new 2nd District, which now includes a big chunk of rural Utah.

And he's starting the campaign early. Matheson will appear in Cedar City, which is part of his new district, on Saturday.

While saying he was invited to the Iron County birthday celebration and his appearance is not really a campaign event, Matheson said he will visit his new southeastern and southern constituents "soon and often" over the next several months.

Over objections from minority Democratic legislators, the Republican majority last month redrew the 2nd District, pushing it out of its home-base Salt Lake County into eastern, southeastern and southern Utah. The 2nd District now only takes in the east side of Salt Lake City and less than half of its population.

The district looks like a reverse "C," and contains many more Republicans. Democrats say the district is now 57 percent Republican; Republican Party leaders say it is more like 62 percent Republican. In either case, Matheson, the lone Democrat in Utah's congressional delegation, will have a tougher re-election next year.

Matheson told the Deseret News last spring that if GOP lawmakers drew his district "unfairly or unconstitutionally" he would sue the state.

Some believed his threats were made to scare Republicans into being nicer to him. But Republicans did what that said they would do from the first: make all Utah U.S. House districts contain rural and urban elements, which changed the 2nd District so that it is no longer wholly in Salt Lake County.

"We never thought (Matheson) would sue. It just appeared to us to be a public-relations stunt, a threat to get the plan to go his way," said Scott Parker, state GOP executive director.

Asked if a failed legal challenge could hurt him politically by making him appear a sore loser in the redistricting fight, Matheson said he hadn't considered that aspect. "No. It's the time it takes to raise such money" for a legal challenge, he said. "I didn't want to do it all when I didn't think I had a reasonable chance of success" in the courts.

Matheson said last week's decision by a special three-judge federal court against Utah in its lawsuit over the 2000 Census count -- a count that denied Utah a fourth congressional seat -- tells him he can't win a legal challenge. "I think this is pretty much decided, we're only going to have three seats next year, and I need to start running in my new district," he said.

Utah is appealing that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The federal court decision last week was on Utah's contention over the way the census was counted and had nothing to do with how the Legislature drew district boundaries.

But Matheson said it showed him that the federal courts don't like to get involved in redistricting issues.

Also, Matheson said he couldn't build a successful case against the Legislature over what he still considers an unfair drawing of political districts because lawmakers used minimal criteria in redrawing U.S. House and legislative boundaries.

"But they basically had no criteria, and that makes it difficult legally" to challenge them successfully. "I just don't think I would win," said Matheson.

John Fellows, the legislative attorney who advised the Legislative Redistricting Committee this year, said he didn't tell legislators not to adopt a number of criteria. "We looked at the criteria accepted by the courts and legislators decided to go with those," said Fellows.

The only criteria adopted by the GOP-dominated committee were population variance, contiguous and compact districts. "They did go with a minimal set of criteria, but that was their decision," said Fellows.

The Utah Democratic Party is still considering a lawsuit, which could be funded by the National Democratic Committee, over legislative redistricting.

Democrats say that GOP legislators didn't consider ethnic and racial communities of interest nor least disturbance of current districts when they passed plans that eliminate at least one Democratic Senate and three Democratic House incumbents next year. Those criteria were considered in other states' redistricting.

Matheson spent $1.3 million in his 2000 election, fund raising for more than a year. He has more than $300,000 in his campaign accounts now, but he won't say what his financial goal will be next year.

"With a new district I'll have to reach a lot of new people," he said, noting that costs go up every year and so he may have to raise and spend even more.

"I already have my campaign office -- located where it was in 2000 -- up and running," he said.

Ironically, that office is located on 2nd West in Salt Lake City, which is now in Rep. Jim Hansen's 1st Congressional District. "Hey, we signed a lease" before the Legislature redrew his district lines, Matheson said, "and even though it is not in my new district, that's where I'll be running my campaign from."

Bob Bernick, Jr. can be reached at [email protected]

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