The Alaska Supreme Court, in a split 3-2 decision, voted to adopt an "interim" redistricting plan it had already ruled unconstitutional for the 2012 election year. The plan has now been sent to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for their approval.
Some entities are asking the Alaska Supreme Court to reconsider its decision.
Other entities are asking the Court to "stay" its decision pending DOJ action.
Citizens are commenting to DOJ regarding their opinions on the plan.
Meanwhile, though Alaskans have been put through numerous flip-flopping court decisions throughout the year, some as recent as last week for one region of the State, Southeast Alaska, the filing deadline for candidates, who have really no clue of their ultimate district in either a final or interim redistricting plan under litigation, is June 1st.
The Supreme Court, in its most recent decision, overruled its own directive to the Alaska Redistricting Board to draw a constitutional plan, that is one that is compact, contiguous plan keeping Boroughs whole and people with common socio-economic interests united.
The redistricting process in Alaska is deeply flawed. Alaska is one of several states governed by the Voting Rights Act at the federal level. At the State level, Alaska redistricting is governed by the Alaska Constitution. Power to draw the lines is entrusted to a highly-partisan redistricting board. Russ Millette (Paulite) newly elected Chair of the Alaska GOP was quoted in the Fairbanks News-Miner recently about former Alaska GOP Chair Randy Reudrich:
“Randy Ruedrich to his credit shared this with me [says Russ Millette] … he had an influence in redistricting — not just he alone, but others had influence. … He said Bettye Davis, Bill Wielechowski and Hollis French have all been put in different districts,” he said of the Anchorage-area Democrats. “The way it was described to me, is those three senators are going to be bad memories in November.”Bettye Davis, by the way, is Alaska's only African-American Senator and is a champion for women's health issues among other issues of justice and equality.
Native Democratic incumbents have been thrown under the bus in some parts of the state, Sen. Bryce Edgmon (D) for example, who has been paired with popular Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Gary Stevens (R) from Kodiak, while in Southeast Alaska, districts have been gerry-mandered to protect the incumbent Republican, Rep. Bill Thomas.
Alaskans, supporting a constitutional plan that also protects minority rights, oppose any plan, for Alaska, interim or final, that is not based on one person, one vote and does not protect socio-economic integration and minority interests to the maximum extent possible. The interim plan now before the Department of Justice sacrifices socio-economic integration, regional interests and minority voting power all to protect the interests of partisan incumbents. The plan should not be approved.
The partisan Redistricting Board's game plan in Alaska has been to draw one illegal plan after another, while at the same time securing initial VRA (Voting Rights Act) preclearance. And then to run down the clock to election filing deadline date.
The Alaska Courts have ruled all the plans to date unconstitutional. At the same time, the Alaska Supreme court is ordering Alaskans to use the Board's unconstitutional plans as an "interim" plan for 2012, while litigation continues.
Alternative plans, that also preserve Native voting power to the extent possible, but that also conform to the Alaska constitution have been ignored by the Redistricting Board. Only State plans have standing before DOJ. A serious flaw in the process is that alternative plans, even though they may be both constitutional and comply with the federal VRA, have little standing before the state court or DOJ, if the Redistricting Board chooses to ignore them.
This leaves Alaskans with an "interim" redistricting plan that has already been ruled unconstitutional by Alaska courts and is vigorously opposed by many within Alaska.
Will the U.S. Department of Justice stand up for justice in Alaska? Stay tuned.