Gaddis v. Moore (In re Initiative Petition No. 420, State Question No. 804 )

Decision Date04 February 2020
Docket NumberCase No. 118,405
Parties IN RE: INITIATIVE PETITION NO. 420, STATE QUESTION NO. 804 Roger Gaddis and Eldon Merklin, Petitioners, v. Andrew Moore, Janet Ann Largent and Lynda Johnson, Respondents.
CourtOklahoma Supreme Court

Robert G. McCampbell and Travis V. Jett, GableGotwals, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for Petitioners.

D. Kent Meyers, Alison M. Howard, and Melanie Wilson Rughani, Crowe & Dunlevy, Oklahoma City, OK, for Respondents.



¶1 On October 28, 2019, the Respondents/Proponents, Andrew Moore, Janet Ann Largent, and Lynda Johnson (Respondents), filed Initiative Petition No. 420, State Question No. 804 (IP 420), with the Secretary of State of Oklahoma. The initiative measure proposes for submission to the voters the creation of a new constitutional article, Article V-A, which would create the Citizens' Independent Redistricting Commission (Commission). IP 420 would vest the power to redistrict the State's House of Representatives and Senatorial districts, as well as Federal Congressional Districts, in this newly created Commission.1 IP 420 would also repeal current constitutional provisions concerning state legislative apportionment.2 Notice of the filing was published on October 31, 2019. Title 34 O.S. Supp. 2015, § 8(b). Within 10 business days, the Petitioners, Rogers Gaddis and Eldon Merklin (Petitioners), brought this original proceeding under the authority of 34 O.S. Supp. 2015, § 8(b) to challenge the legal sufficiency of IP 420. They allege the proposed amendment by article suffers from two fatal constitutional defects: 1) IP 420 violates the single subject rule found in Okla. Const. art. 24, § 1, and 2 ) IP 420 violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This matter was assigned to this office on December 17, 2019.


¶2 Sections 1 and 2 of IP 420 provide for the number of districts and terms of office for state senators and representatives. The number and terms are the same as that under current law. There will be forty-eight senate districts with only one senator from each district and one hundred and one house districts with only one representative from each district. State senators will serve a four-year term and state representatives will serve a two-year term. Section 3 vests the power to redistrict state legislative districts and federal congressional districts in the newly created Citizens' Independent Redistricting Commission. Section 4 provides for the composition of the Commission. The Commission shall consist of nine members. Three of the members shall be affiliated with the state's largest political party and three shall be affiliated with the state's second largest political party. The remaining three members are persons who are unaffiliated with either of the state's two largest political parties.

¶3 Section 4(B)(4) of IP 420 provides a mechanism for the application and selection of the nine commissioners. The Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court shall first appoint a special master who will oversee the application process and the training of the commissioners. The Chief Justice shall also designate a Panel to review applications for the commissioner positions. The Panel is composed of three retired appellate Justices and/or Judges. Their selection is based upon a random drawing. The special master shall accept applications to the Commission. From these applications, the Panel shall identify three pools of applicants, each containing twenty applications. The three pools are composed as follows: 1) applicants affiliated with the state's largest political party, 2) applicants affiliated with the state's second largest political party, and 3) applicants not affiliated with the state's two largest political parties. Each pool shall have no fewer than three applicants from each current congressional district. As practicable, each pool shall try to reflect the state's racial, ethnic, veteran status, sexual orientation, and gender diversity. The Panel shall then choose by lot six applicants, two from each pool, to serve on the Commission. In addition, the Panel shall choose three alternate members to the Commission from the remaining pools of applicants. One is chosen from each pool by lot. Those persons will serve as alternates in order to fill vacancies on the Commission. The six commissioners will thereafter appoint one additional commissioner from each pool. Within thirty days after all redistricting plans have been approved and any challenges have been resolved, the Commission shall be dissolved and any unexpended funds shall revert to the State's general revenue fund. Section 4(H) of IP 420.

¶4 Section 4(B)(2)(a-f) of IP 420 provides for the qualifications of the commissioners. A member of the Commission shall have been continuously domiciled in this State for the five years immediately preceding the date of appointment and shall not have changed their registered political affiliation in the four years prior to such date. In addition, in the five years immediately preceding the date of appointment to the Commission, the commissioner shall not: 1) have held, or have an immediate family member who has held, a partisan elective office at the federal, state, or political subdivision level in this State, 2) have registered, or have an immediate family member who has registered, as a federal, state or local lobbyist, 3) have held office or served, or has an immediate family member who has held office or served, as a paid staff member for a political party, 4) have been nominated, nor have an immediate family member who has been nominated, as a candidate for elective office by a political party, and 5) have been an employee of the state legislature. The term "immediate family member" is defined in Section 4(A)(9) as a father, stepfather, mother, stepmother, son, stepson, daughter, stepdaughter, brother, stepbrother, sister, stepsister, husband, wife, father-in-law, or mother-in-law. Section 4(B)(6) also prohibits members from running for an elective office in a district created while they served on the Commission.

¶5 Section 4(B)(7-8) of IP 420 provides for the compensation of the members of the Commission and funding for the Commission. The commissioners' compensation consists only of a per diem amount and travel reimbursement in the same manner as members of the State Legislature. A revolving fund, the "Citizens' Independent Redistricting Commission Revolving Fund," shall be created and the Legislature is required to annually appropriate money into the fund sufficient to enable the Commission to perform its functions.

¶6 The Commission is required to vote for the appointment of a secretary who is nominated by the special master. Section 4(C) of IP 420. The duties of the secretary include: 1) assisting in the running and convening of the Commission, 2) holding regional field hearings to seek public input relevant to redistricting, 3) hiring and managing staff to assist the Commission and secretary, 4) developing and maintaining a website that creates a public plan drawing system which will allow members of the public to monitor the Commission's work as well as submit their own proposed plans and maps indicating communities of interest. Section 4(C) also includes other duties of the Commission. Part of the duties will be to obtain data from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections concerning the home addresses of state and federal inmates and add this data to the Federal Decennial Census data so that incarcerated people are counted in their home communities. Section 4(C)(3)(a) of IP 420.

¶7 Section 4(D) requires the Commission to conduct separate processes for drawing and submitting plans for the redistricting of State House Districts, State Senate Districts and Federal Congressional Districts. This subsection also provides the specific criteria the Commission will use in determining districts. First, it requires the Commission to comply with the U.S. Constitution and any federal law, including the requirement that it equalize total population. It also requires all districts to be contiguous, i.e., to be bound by an unbroken line. Additionally, the Commission shall seek to maximize compliance with the following criteria in this order of priority: 1) Communities of Interest — it shall minimize the division of communities of interest, which are defined as an area with recognized similarities of interests, which include but are not limited to, racial, ethnic, economic, social, cultural, geographic, tribal, linguistic, or historic identities, but shall not include common relationships with political parties, officeholders, or political candidates; 2) Racial and Ethnic Fairness — a redistricting plan shall not be drawn in a way to deny or abridge the equal opportunity of racial or ethnic minority groups to participate in the political process or diminish their ability to elect representatives of their choice; 3) Political Fairness — on a statewide basis, no plan shall unduly favor a political party; 4) Districts — the districts shall respect geographic integrity of political subdivisions to the extent preceding criteria have been satisfied; and 5) Compactness — the draft plan should be compact to the extent preceding criteria have been satisfied. In addition, a redistricting plan is prohibited from taking into consideration: 1) the residence of any member or candidate of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, Oklahoma Senate, or U.S. Congress, and 2) the political party affiliation or voting history of the population of a district.

¶8 Section 4(E) of IP 420 provides for the approval of redistricting plans. It first requires the Commission to create a preliminary plan and hold public meetings in each congressional district. A preliminary plan shall also be published, including a version in a digital format, and the public will be allowed no fewer than fourteen days to...

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