Court Rejects Connecticut GOP's Effort to Remove Man Appointed to Redraw Congressional Map

The Connecticut Supreme Court denied a motion Republican lawmakers filed against the court's appointment of Stanford law professor Nathanial Persily to help redraw Connecticut's congressional district lines.

The court-appointed Persily after members of the state legislature's Reapportionment Commission couldn't agree on how to redraw the districts in accordance with population changes.

Four Republican members of the commission filed the motion on December 24 asking the court to reverse its decision to appoint Persily. Instead, they asked that two special masters—one Republican and one Democrat—be appointed. They argued having one from each party would "preserve the public's confidence in the fairness of the redistricting process."

In the motion, the lawmakers suggested Persily would be "partial to abiding by his prior work," implying the possibility he would engage in gerrymandering.

In the court's decision, it said the lawmakers' request "borders on frivolous," adding that it "rejected in the strongest possible terms" the implication that Persily's appointment had anything to do with partisanship.

The court wrote it had a "constitutional obligation" to set up a redistricting plan by February 15. It said it chose Persily, who had served in the same role in 2011 when state lawmakers also could not come to a redistricting decision, "on the merits and without any consideration of politics whatsoever."

Connecticut, sign
The Connecticut Supreme Court upheld its decision to appoint Stanford law professor Nathanial Persily to help redraw the state's congressional district lines. Above, the "Welcome to Connecticut" sign. Stock Image/Getty Images

The four Republican lawmakers also said Persily's name was not on the list of three possible special masters they had submitted for the court to consider but was mentioned publicly by Democratic Senate President Martin Looney as someone the Democrats would recommend to the court. Ultimately, the Democrats did not submit any names.

In Tuesday's order from the court, the justices noted they had asked the commission to only provide three names of potential special masters that both Republicans and Democrats had agreed upon, not partisan selections. The panel, however, was unable to agree on three potential candidates. The GOP still submitted its three picks. The court argued that it was left with no other choice but to move ahead and appoint a special master.

"It should surprise no one that the Court selected a nationally recognized expert in the area of redistricting to assist it when the petitioners chose to offer this Court no bipartisan assistance," wrote the justices, who said Persily's familiarity with Connecticut's congressional districts should be helpful.

The Democrats, who submitted a brief on Monday opposing the Republicans' request, said Looney's comments about Persily in a news article was not the same as formally submitting his name for consideration.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Voter ID checks
Republicans in Connecticut are unhappy with the person selected to help the committee draw the Congressional district boundaries. Above, an election worker checks a voter's identification at a polling center in Stamford, Connecticut on April 26, 2016. John Moore/Getty Images