Republican state Senate and House leaders react to Ninth Circuit Court redistricting ruling

The Ninth Circuit Court has dismissed an emergency motion to stay regarding a recent federal court ruling on legislative district boundaries in Central Washington. The court found that the petitioners requesting the delay lacked standing. The motion stemmed from a March 15 decision by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, instructing the Secretary of State to conduct future elections based on a new legislative district map approved by the court in the case of Palmer v. Hobbs.

These decisions followed a ruling last August, which mandated the reworking of district maps drawn in 2021 due to violations of the Voting Rights Act, as determined by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Lasnik.

While this decision claims to rectify electoral power disparities, it comes at the expense of relocating five Republican lawmakers, including Latina state Sen. Nikki Torres, who represents a substantial portion of the affected area. No Democrat lawmakers were impacted by the new district boundaries.

The new legislative map adopted by the federal court creates sweeping changes to thirteen Washington legislative districts, especially districts 14 and 15 in Central Washington. With the Ninth Circuit Court’s dismissal of the motion, changes to the legislative district map will take effect immediately and be in place for the 2024 elections.

Senate Republican Leader John Braun and House Republican Deputy Leader Mike Steele issued the following statement regarding the Ninth Circuit Court’s decision to dismiss the emergency motion to stay:

“We are profoundly disappointed by the Ninth Circuit Court’s decision on the emergency motion to delay these district changes. What’s even more troubling is the district court’s decision on March 15 to alter these maps doesn’t seem to address the claimed core issue, namely the dilution of the political voice of the Latino electorate in the Yakima Valley. The new map results in fewer eligible Latino voters in the area and moves their elected representative, the first-ever Latina senator in Central Washington, entirely out of their district.

“Federal Judge Lasnik’s new maps turn the principles of the federal Voting Rights Act upside down, and it should be appealed all the way to the United States Supreme Court. Redistricting should prioritize fairness and adhere to non-partisan principles while following constitutional and Voting Rights Act requirements. However, in this case, the district court’s actions seem to contradict these principles. The extensive changes to legislative maps appear to prioritize partisan interests over fairness. It is imperative that our electoral processes promote fairness for all constituents. We believe these district map changes fail to meet that standard.”

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov