Minn. districts set smoothly

Partisan ideology didn’t interfere the redrawing of Minnesota districts.

Editorial board

With surprisingly little partisan bickering, Minnesota’s legislative and congressional districts are now set. A state Supreme Court-appointed judicial panel released the decennial update last week, avoiding the rancor that often comes when legislatures themselves attempt to redraw the districts.

Like many states, Minnesota found itself on the wrong side of political infighting until the state Supreme Court stepped in to do what the state’s legislators could not and should not do. Redrawing district lines is not a task to be handled by elected officials seeking advantage on the campaign trail.

Minnesota got lucky, as the partisanship of redistricting was largely avoided. Next door in Wisconsin, however, the battle over district boundaries continues on, all the way to the courtroom.

After Wisconsin lawmakers of both parties cried foul, former state Sen. Judy Robson and the immigrant-rights group Voces de la Frontera sued, claiming the process was done in secret without public testimony in the interest of splitting immigrant and minority populations between districts. As the court sent the redrawn map back to the legislature to once again be redrawn, the Republican majority refused, and the case has now gone to trial.

Simply put, the partisan wrangling from political branches underscores a lesson we seem to relearn every 10 years — district lines should not be drawn by legislators who stand to gain the most from the process.

The case in Wisconsin demonstrates that the process should also be open with input from citizens and community groups alike. The process of deciding the basic boundaries of democracy should itself be democratic.