By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: The three special masters appointed by Carson City District Judge James Todd Russell to redraw Nevada’s political boundaries wasted no time on the charge, filing their report and proposed maps with the court today.
The proposed maps show that the masters opted to draw a congressional district for urban Las Vegas, an area with a high Hispanic population.
Attorneys for the Republican Party wanted such a district. Attorneys for Democrats had proposed districts that divided this area up among three congressional districts. The district as drawn is 42.8 percent Hispanic.
The proposed boundaries for urban Congressional District 1 are sure to provoke strong reaction from Democrats.
In their report, the special masters – Carson City Clerk-Recorder Alan Glover, Las Vegas attorney Thomas Sheets and former legislative Research Director Bob Erickson – said: “The special masters in creating a map with four United States Congressional districts carefully considered the issues associated with treatment of minority groups. The Special Masters considered the facts presented, testimony, argument and the law as they understood it.
“The Special Masters to the extent practicable have drawn the districts to avoid dividing groups of common social, economic, cultural, or language characteristics where it was not otherwise necessary to do so,” they said.
The special masters also released proposed maps for Nevada’s 63 legislative districts. The map for the state Senate reflects the shift of population south since the 2000 census. The maps include detail of the Las Vegas area.
The maps for the 42 Assembly districts shows a similar shift. The masters also provided detail of the proposed Las Vegas area Assembly districts.
In filing their report, the special masters noted that: “The state’s Supreme Court will likely ultimately determine legal, jurisdictional and procedural requirements and whether the work that has been done by the special masters is of assistance in seeking that redistricting issues were expediently considered.”
The panel wasted no time. Public hearings on the redistricting issue just concluded on Tuesday. The proposed maps were not due to Russell until Oct. 21. Russell indicated in a previous order he would decide by mid-November on whether to accept the maps as proposed or send them back for refinement. But a new order issued today says he will hear the matter on Oct. 27.
The Nevada Supreme Court is already involved in the redistricting controversy. It has scheduled oral arguments for Nov. 14 on questions raised by Secretary of State Ross Miller on whether it is the responsibility of the Legislature to draw the political boundaries, not the courts.