The majority opinion of the Colorado Supreme Court that certified the gerrymandered Democratic Senate maps in Jefferson County ignores the redistricting guidelines in the Colorado Constitution. Article 5, Section 47 states: “Each district shall be as compact in area as possible, and the aggregate linear distance of all district boundaries shall be as short as possible.” The Democratic-designed Senate District 16 encompasses an area covering a linear distance of more than 98.1 miles in length from north to south. The eastern portion of Senate District 16 is also separated heading west by two other Senate districts that measure approximately 32 miles and 24 miles in comparison.
In addition, the Colorado Constitution clearly states: “Except when necessary to meet the equal population requirements of Section 46, no part of one county shall be added to all or part of another county in forming districts.” The inclusion of the southern and eastern parts of Jefferson County with Gilpin and Boulder counties appears to be unnecessary, arbitrary and capricious unless the court interprets Democratic gerrymandering to eliminate Republican representation in a county as “necessary.”
Lastly, the Colorado Constitution states: “Communities of interest, including ethnic, cultural, economic, trade area, geographic, and demographic factors, shall be preserved within a single district wherever possible.” Other than being located in the same state, voters of southern and western Jefferson County share no “community of interest” with the voters of Boulder County. The South Jefferson County “community of interest” is now split across three Senate districts.
Whether the outcome was the result of court fatigue brought on by a fatally flawed redistricting process or simply giving in to political pressures, this ruling ignores basic Colorado Constitution principles. Colorado’s citizens will have to draw their own conclusions and decide whether the court’s majority abided by their oath of office to uphold those principles which emanate from the people.
Tim Neville is the state senator representing District 22, which now plays a much larger role in the Courier’s coverage area.