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September 30, 2014

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Supreme Court indicates it will intervene in redistricting, resolve legal, political mess

Or will it?

The order just released, first reported by The Sun's Anjeanette Damon, cites Article 4, Section 5 of the state Constitution:

"It shall be the mandatory duty of the Legislature at its first session after the taking of the decennial census of the United States in the year 1950, and

after each subsequent decennial census, to fix by law the number of Senators and Assemblymen, and apportion them among the several counties of the State, or among legislative districts which may be established by law, according to the number of inhabitants in them, respectively."

The order indicates that perhaps the courts have no jurisdiction and that a plan must be legislatively approved -- as some, ahem, have argued. It's unlikely that the court would overturn Gov. Brian Sandoval's pair of vetoes of Democratic plans, but there are at least two problems:

1. There is a separation of powers issue with a court ordering the governor to call lawmakers into a special session.

2. Lawmakers and the governor have violated the plain letter of this constitutional provision before -- in fact, during the last redistricting it was not accomplished at the "first session" after the census. It took a special session. (Am I splitting legal hairs?)

I wonder how panicked the GOP folks are that the high court could ratify a legislatively approved map -- i.e. a Democratic map.

And if Carson Judge Todd Russell does not know yet how he is disrespected by the justices, this order ought to resolve any doubt.

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