GOP Redistricting Plan Rejected

Three federal judges rejected a GOP challenge over Colorado's congressional redistricting map Friday, but stayed their ruling to wait to see if the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the issue.

The decision came after lawyers for the Republican-dominated Legislature asked the judges to reinstate their version of the congressional district map.

The bitter battle over boundaries for Colorado's congressional district is being waged in two legal challenges. At the heart of the dispute is who had the authority to draw the congressional districts after the 2000 census.

The state Supreme Court ruled last year a state judge had that right because lawmakers failed to do so in time for the November 2002 elections. The GOP says the state Supreme Court ignored federal requirements giving redistricting power only to legislators.

A separate lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court by Democrats. It had been put on hold pending the Colorado Supreme Court ruling. Besides issues cited in the state case, it claims the Republican map violates federal equal protection provisions and disenfranchises voters.

Colorado Democratic Party chair Chris Gates issued a statement in response to the ruling:

“(Friday's) ruling reinforces what we’ve been saying for months -- that the Republicans’ redistricting scheme was unconstitutional. The Colorado Supreme Court ruled as such, and it’s time to stop spending taxpayer money on political games.

“It has become more and more clear that the reason the Republicans are fighting so hard on this issue is that the current lines are not good ones for them. We expect 2004 to be an extremely competitive political year in Colorado.”

There was no immediate response from Republicans.

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