Oregon’s state legislature has primary responsibility to draw both congressional and state legislative districts, subject to gubernatorial veto. If the legislature fails to meet its deadline, responsibility falls to a panel of judges (congressional) and the Secretary of State (state legislative) to draw the lines.
On Sept. 30, 2021 Gov. Kate Brown formally signed new congressional and state legislative districts into law just hours before the midnight deadline that would have shifted responsibility away from the legislature.
On Oct. 11 a group of Republicans, including a former Secretary of State filed a lawsuit against the congressional plan in state court, arguing the districts violate various provisions of the state constitution (art. I §§ 8, 20, 26, art. II § 1) and a state statute that explicitly provides that “[n]o district shall be drawn for the purpose of favoring any political party, incumbent legislator or other person.” (ORS § 188.010(2)).
In the 2010 cycle, the state legislature passed a congressional plan (SB 990) on June 30, 2011, which the Governor signed on the same day. The state legislature passed a state legislative plan (SB 989) on June 10, 2011, which the Governor signed on June 13, 2011.
A 2020 ballot initiative to establish an independent commission for state legislative lines survived litigation, but not COVID-19; it failed to get enough signatures during the pandemic to make the 2020 ballot. [People Not Politicians Oregon v. Clarno, No. 20-35630 (9th Cir. Sept. 1, 2020); Fletchall v. Rosenblum, No. S066460 (Ore. S. Ct. Sept. 4, 2019); Fletchall v. Rosenblum, 448 P.3d 634 (Ore. 2019); Fletchall v. Rosenblum, 442 P.3d 193 (Ore. 2019)]
Key Info for 2010 Cycle
Primary governing law
Oregon’s congressional lines are drawn by the state legislature, as a regular statute, subject to gubernatorial veto.
For state legislative lines, the legislature has primary responsibility to draw a plan, but if it fails to do so, responsibility falls to the Secretary of State to draw district lines. [Or. Const. art. IV, § 6]
The Oregon constitution vests original jurisdiction in the state Supreme Court for review of state legislative lines in state court. The Marion County Circuit Court has jurisdiction to hear challenges to congressional lines, with appeal to the state Supreme Court; a special panel of one judge from each congressional district will be convened to hear any dispute. [Or. Const. art. IV, § 6; Or. Rev. Stat. § 188.125]
Oregon state law does not impose a particular deadline for drawing congressional lines, though it allows voters to request that the Marion County Circuit Court panel draw lines in the first instance if no plan has been passed by July 1, 2021. [Or. Rev. Stat. § 188.125(2)(b)] The 2021 legislative session began on Jan. 21, 2021, and is currently scheduled to end on June 28, 2021; candidates must file for congressional primary elections by Mar. 8, 2022. [Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 249.037, 254.056] Any judicial challenges must be resolved by the Marion County panel by Oct. 1, 2021. [Or. Rev. Stat. § 188.125(10)]
For state legislative lines, if the state legislature does not enact a redistricting statute by July 1, 2021, the process will fall to the Oregon Secretary of State, who must file a plan by Aug. 15, 2011. [Or. Const. art. IV, § 6] Candidates must file for state legislative primary elections by Mar. 8, 2022. [Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 249.037, 254.056] Any judicial challenges must be resolved by the state Supreme Court by Sept. 15, 2021, if the plan is drawn by the legislature, or Nov. 1, 2021, if the plan is drawn by the Secretary of State.
The Oregon constitution ties the drawing of state legislative lines to the Census, and might therefore be construed to prohibit redrawing lines mid-decade; there is no similar provision pertaining to congressional lines. [Or. Const. art. IV, § 6]
The legislature must hold at least ten public hearings, including one hearing in each congressional district, before proposing a congressional or state legislative plan. After a plan is proposed, either by the legislature or the Secretary of State, there must be five public hearings (if practicable before the final deadline), in different congressional districts or via videoconference. At least one hearing before releasing a map and one afterward must be in “areas that have experienced the largest shifts in population” over the last decade. [Or. Const. art. IV, § 6(3)(a); Or. Rev. Stat. § 188.016]
Like all states, Oregon must comply with constitutional equal population requirements. By statute, Oregon further asks that its congressional and state legislative districts be of equal population, “as nearly as practicable.” [Or. Rev. Stat. § 188.010]
Oregon must also, like all states, abide by the Voting Rights Act and constitutional rules on race. Oregon statutes also provide that no district shall be drawn for the purpose of diluting the voting strength of any language or ethnic minority group. [Or. Rev. Stat. § 188.010]
The state constitution requires that state Senate lines be contiguous, and protect county boundaries. Oregon statutes establish additional criteria for both state legislative and congressional districts: as nearly as practicable, districts must be contiguous, utilize existing geographic or political boundaries, not divide communities of common interest, and be connected by transportation links. The law also declares that districts will not be drawn for the purpose of favoring a political party, incumbent, or other person. The legislature may modify these statutes at any time. [Or. Const. art. IV, § 7; Or. Rev. Stat. § 188.010]
The Secretary of State has promulgated rules clarifying that, at least when the Secretary of State must draw district lines, she will comply with statutory criteria “to the maximum extent practicable”; these rules further focus “geographic or political boundaries” on county and city lines, focus “transportation links” on the presence of county roads in populated areas, and note that media markets will be considered in “determining communities of common interest.” [Or. Admin. R. § 165-008-0060]
The state legislature passed a congressional plan (SB 990) on June 30, 2011, which the Governor signed on the same day.
The state legislature passed a state legislative plan (SB 989) on June 10, 2011, which the Governor signed on June 13, 2011.
It does not appear that either plan was challenged in court.
Materials and maps are available here.
The Oregon legislature passed a congressional plan (SB 500), which was vetoed on June 28, 2001. An Oregon state trial court was then asked to draw congressional districts, which it did on Oct. 19, 2001. [Perrin v. Kitzhaber, No. 0107-07021 (Or. Circuit Ct. Oct. 19, 2001); Or. Rev. Stat. § 188.140]
The legislature also passed a state legislative plan (HB 2001), which was also vetoed on June 28, 2001. When July 1, 2001, passed without a valid legislative plan, the Secretary of State submitted a state legislative plan. That plan was challenged in state court, and upheld. [Hartung v. Bradbury, 33 P.3d 972 (Or. 2001)]