Who draws the lines?
Redistricting status map
|Court rejected challenge to leg. map|
|Court sent map back to legislature|
|Court drew map (not legislature)|
|Court rejected challenge to comm'n map|
|Court sent map back to commission|
- Litigation over congressional lines -- 2000 cycle
Courts are also sometimes called on to draw district lines. Most state constitutions set a deadline by which the regular process of redistricting must be completed. If the primary redistricting body has not drawn a viable map by then, state or federal courts may step in to make sure that the district lines are set before the next election. Also, if the maps are produced on time, but are legally flawed, some courts will draw maps of their own, particularly if elections are around the corner, and there is not enough time to give the pen back to the original drawers.
In the 2000 redistricting cycle, courts were asked to intervene in 37 states. Courts reviewed congressional districts (or stepped in to correct legislative inaction) in 21 states; though they approved all new maps they reviewed, they actually drew the lines (or some of the lines) themselves in 9 states, when the primary map-drawer defaulted.
Courts reviewed state legislative districts (or stepped in to correct legislative inaction) in 30 states, declared new districts unlawful in 9 states, and actually drew the lines (or some of the lines) themselves in 11 states, including 7 states where the court drew lines when the primary map-drawer defaulted (in Louisiana, litigants settled out of court before a final court opinion was issued).