Nevada GOP redistricting lawsuit gets a hearing today

Nevada GOP redistricting lawsuit gets a hearing today
A portion of Nevada's state legislative redistricting maps, redrawn in 2021 using updated Census data.

By Suzanne Potter
This story was originally published by Public News Service.

CARSON CITY — A hearing is set for today in the Republican-backed lawsuit against Nevada’s new state legislative maps drawn based on the 2020 census results.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to block the new maps while their lawsuit to overturn them proceeds. That would keep the old district boundaries in place for the primary election in June. They also want the candidate filing period to be delayed, even though it already has begun.

Sadmira Ramic, a voting-rights attorney at the ACLU of Nevada, said the plaintiffs claim the current state legislative maps unfairly split voters in Pahrump.

“The argument that they make is the maps engage in partisan gerrymandering,” she said, “and this is diluting the votes of Republican voters.”

Attorneys for both sides declined to comment ahead of the hearing. The Nevada Redistricting Commission was charged with drawing districts of equal populations, while keeping communities together – and without diluting the voting power of minority populations.

Rebecca Gill, an associate professor of political science at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, said she thinks the new maps will stand. In 2019, she said, the Supreme Court refused to block gerrymandered maps, saying it is a state issue.

“I think this lawsuit is likely to fail because it deals with partisan gerrymandering,” she said, “and the Supreme Court has already said that they aren’t going to overturn maps for partisan gerrymandering.”

Gill noted that the high court also just let some Alabama redistricting maps stand, despite accusations that the new boundaries show racial bias.

“The court just said in an Alabama case that it is too close to the midterm elections to do anything about the maps,” she said, “and that was a case where the maps really were in violation of the law.”

The plaintiffs in the Nevada case are not claiming racial gerrymandering. It’s unclear when the judge will reach a decision.