N.J. Supreme Court dismisses Republican challenge to redistricting maps

Feb. 4 (UPI) -- The New Jersey Supreme Court has dismissed a Republican challenge against the state's redistricting maps, stating there was nothing unlawful about them.

The state's highest court on Thursday voted 5-0 against the Republican lawsuit asking the justices to remand the maps back to the redistricting commission for further consideration with its independent chair, former state Supreme Court Judge John Wallace, recused.


In the opinion, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner said the act of redistricting is partisan work and the court's only role is to step in if the maps are unlawful, which the Republicans neither proved nor asserted in their challenge.

"Historically, after meeting in private with the respective partisan delegations to discuss their proposals, the independent member serves as the tie breaker and selects one party's preferred map," Rabner said. "The outcome commonly garners praise from one party and criticism from the other. This redistricting cycle was no different."

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The Democratic maps were approved by the 13-member bipartisan commission on Dec. 22 with Wallace, who was appointed by the court as its independent member, voting along with the commission's six Democrat members.


In early January, the commission's Republican members lodged the challenge, accusing the maps of being approved based on "an arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable vote and reasoning by Chair Wallace."

In the court documents, the Republicans said Wallace's behavior deserved the maps to be remanded as he said he sided with the Democrats "simply because in the last redistricting map, it was drawn by the Republicans."

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"Thus, I conclude that fairness dictates that the Democrats have the opportunity to have their map used for this redistricting cycle," Wallace said, according to the court document.

In the opinion, Rabner wrote that people may differ with the independent tie breaker's support of a particular map but the decision is not subject to review by the court as it is not unlawful.

"No count in the complain, however, asserts that the final map itself is unlawful or that it is the result of invidious discrimination," Rabner said.

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Douglas Steinhardt, the Republican delegation chair of the redistricting commission, lashed out at the court's decision on Twitter.

"NJ Supreme Court to 9M NJerseyans: Nothing unconstitutional about Dems cheating, so we won't help you," he tweeted.

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