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Colorado Supreme Court decides next step on congressional redistricting map

If the Supreme Court judges approve the map, there are four Democratic-leaning districts, three Republican-leaning districts and one toss-up.

COLORADO, USA — The newly drawn Congressional district map with eight districts in Colorado is now in the hands of the Colorado Supreme Court.

The justices could approve the map, creating four Democratic-leaning districts, three Republican-leaning districts and one toss-up or send it back to the independent commission responsible for drawing the lines with instructions on what it did wrong.

"No plan can please everyone," said commission attorney Fred Yarger.

The Colorado Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday from a half dozen groups trying to convince the justices to send the map back to the commission to be redrawn.

The majority of the arguments centered around race and diversity.

"If court adopts the approaches that some parties are suggesting, yes I think there would have to be more consideration of drawing district lines based on race, which would be very difficult to constitutionally sustain, and then it would have to come back to this court," said Yarger.

"We're going to be talking about race no matter what we do here, because that's sort of baked in," said Justice Richard L. Gabriel.

CLLARO, or the Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy & Research Organization, is one advocacy group arguing that the newly drawn Congressional District 8 should be redrawn to give minority-preferred candidates a better chance at being elected.

"If this court agrees with the commission, we will have made race a forbidden topic in this state. It is not against the law to talk about race," said CLLARO attorney Kendra Beckwith. "I would respectfully ask that this Court give no effect to the map, return it back to the commission with explicit directions to engage in the conversation on race…and to specifically take into account racially diluted voting and the electoral influence."

The attorney for LULAC or League of Latin American Citizens and Colorado League of Latin American Citizens – argued that the Colorado Supreme Court should tell the commission to redraw Congressional District 8 with LULAC's suggestion that it be drawn in southern Colorado, also to prevent minority voices from being diluted.

Some of the questions from the justices showed concern for what their involvement could mean.

"I understand you disagree with the map, but where is an abuse of discretion here?" said Gabriel.

"It would be fairly chaotic if the end result of this was a back of forth then went up to the U.S. Supreme Court, how are we supposed to think about that?" said Justice Melissa Hart.

"If we ended up disagreeing with you and agreeing with some of what your opponents are asking us to do, and we remanded this to the commission, how does it play out?" said Justice Carlos A. Samour, Jr.

An attorney for the Denver Clerk and Recorder even argued that one precinct of Congressional District 1 should be redrawn because it contains 19 registered voters.

"A voter's ballot may be traced back to that voter in violation of the voter's constitutional right to secrecy," said attorney Troy Bratton. "A precinct of only 19 voters places those voters anonymity in jeopardy."

The hearing ended with the commission's attorney getting the last word.

"If this map is remanded, based on the approaches that are being offered to the court today, race will predominate in the redrawing of district lines in at least CD3, CD8 and maybe CD1," said Yarger. "It is impossible to draw districts if the standard is every community of interest within a particular district, must share interests. A map can't be drawn to do that. Colorado is too big and it's too diverse."

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