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July 27, 2014

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Even before first redistricting plan is presented, Democrats make first legal move in Carson City court

UPDATE: Complaint posted at right.

This is all about the endgame, a precautionary measure with the Democrats wanting to preserve the venue (Carson City) and getting a placeholder suit in case challenges are filed to the ultimate plan, which some Democrats believe GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval might veto. The suit could not be filed until the Nevada census data officially was released, showing some legislative districts and the congressional districts (a new one is needed) out of whack.

The suit, filed by Democratically aligned lawyers, including the counsel for the state party (Bradley Schrager), raises the issue of the Legislature not being able to agree on a plan in the relatively short time between now and June 6, when sine die must occur. It essentially says: If the Legislature can't agree on a plan, this court (the suit asks the Carson City court to retain jurisdiction) must order one to preserve fairness.

The argument embedded in the suit is simple: It seeks to prevent Secretary of State Ross Miller from certifying or administering any 2012 elections before new congressional, Senate, and Assembly districts are drawn. (Of course he wouldn't.) Lawyers for the plaintiffs(residents of districts that have disproportionate populations) say the action is necessary to ensure that, should the State of Nevada not be able to enact redistricting maps during the regular session or should the maps be challenged on constitutional grounds, the judicial backstop is in place to resolve the conflict in a timely and fair manner by a fair and experienced court of jurisdiction. The argument: The district court in Carson City (located in the seat of government) has significant experience with election law and matters relating to the Legislature.

Two ironies:

1. Democrats suing Democratic secretary of state. Ross Miller is only defendant.

2. Ross Miller's ex-deputy, Matt Griffin, is one of the lawyers.

Lawyers will move this week to add Marc Elias, one of the country's top Democratic lawyers and a senior partner at Perkins Coie, to the lawsuit. Elias is the chief lawyer for the National Democratic Redistricting Trust.

The maneuvering has begun as many believe this will never be resolved in the Legislative Building.

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