The New Mexico Supreme Court on Friday overturned a plan for new districts for the state House of Representatives and ordered a judge to draw a new map. The court issued a 4-1 split decision that was a victory for Democrats and the Legislature, which had challenged a redistricting plan ordered last month by retired District Court Judge James Hall. The justices said the judge should try to develop a new redistricting plan by Feb. 27. The traditional filing deadline for House candidates is next month, but the uncertainty of the redistricting case has cast doubts over that schedule.
District boundaries must be adjusted for population shifts during the past decade and the goal is to equalize district populations as much as possible to ensure that each New Mexican’s vote has equal weight. That’s necessary to comply with the legal requirements of one person, one vote. Hall used district configurations advocated by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and other GOP officials as the foundation for the plan he approved.
Democrats and the Legislature contended that the judge tried to equal district populations so closely that he sacrificed other redistricting principles, such as protecting the voting interests of Hispanics in parts of New Mexico.