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Mon May 11, 2020, 10:45 PM

It only took two interventions by the U.S. Supreme Court for MN to revamp its legislative districts

By the late 1950s Minnesota’s legislative districts — last configured in 1913 — had become alarmingly imbalanced. Though the state constitution required the districts to be drawn “in proportion to population,” the populations of House districts ranged from 7,290 residents to 107,246, and Senate districts from 16,878 to 153,455. It would take fourteen years, three federal lawsuits, three special sessions of the legislature, three governor’s vetoes, one trip to the Minnesota Supreme Court, and one to the US Supreme Court to fix the problem, and then temporarily. Twenty years and one more governor’s veto later, the US Supreme Court intervened again.

After statehood in 1858 Minnesota’s legislature altered legislative districts in 1860, 1866, 1871, 1881, 1889, 1897, and 1913, but then stopped doing so. Between the census of 1910 (the basis for the 1913 redistricting) and the census of 1950, Minnesota’s population increased from just over two million to almost three million. The state became much more urban and suburban, but the urban and suburban areas gained no representation in the legislature.

In March 1958 citizens from the Twin Cities area sued the state, arguing that demographic changes had made the 1913 districts unconstitutional. On July 10, 1958, a panel of three federal judges ruled that the huge population differences between many house and senate districts violated the US Constitution. In its 1959 session the Minnesota legislature re-drew legislative lines, effective 1962.

In 1962 the US Supreme Court, in Baker v. Carr, made the first in a series of decisions asserting federal constitutional power over state legislative districts. These cases became known as establishing the “one person, one vote” principle. In June 1964 another set of Minnesota’s urban and suburban citizens brought a new lawsuit, challenging the 1959 reapportionment. The population range remained vast—from 24,428 to 110,520 in Senate districts, 8,343 to 56,076 in House districts. In December of 1964 another three-judge panel of federal judges ruled the 1959 districts unconstitutional and gave the legislature until 1966 to re-draw the lines.

Read more: https://www.minnpost.com/mnopedia/2020/05/it-only-took-two-interventions-by-the-u-s-supreme-court-for-minnesota-to-revamp-its-legislative-districts/

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