CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The New Hampshire Supreme Court on Friday released a congressional redistricting plan that moves just five towns from the state's 1st District to the 2nd, rejecting a last-minute attempt by Republicans to block its takeover of the process.
Both the House and Senate approved a new map Thursday on the last day of the legislative session. But Republican Gov. Chris Sununu quickly said he would veto it, and the state Supreme Court had said it would release a map Friday if the Legislature failed to enact one.
Under the court's map, the towns of Albany, Campton, Jackson, New Hampton and Sandwich would move from the 1st District to the 2nd.
“A perfect population plan can be achieved by moving whole towns containing the exact number of people necessary to achieve a one-person deviation between the two districts,” wrote Nathaniel Persily, a Stanford Law School professor who was appointed by the court as a special master to develop the map.
The court denied a motion filed by Senate President Chuck Morse and House Speaker Sherm Packard late Thursday asking the court to dismiss the case or halt the release of its map until after Sununu takes action.
“The Constitutional lawmaking process does not anticipate that when the Governor is considering an act of the General Court that he will be provided with a judicially created ‘backup proposal’ that allows him to choose a favorite between a legislative created redistricting map and a judicially created redistricting map,” attorneys for the Republican leaders wrote.
Sununu, who called the plan unfair in part because it puts both Democratic incumbents in the same district, vetoed the bill Friday, though it's unclear whether he did so before or after the court released its plan.
New Hampshire is one few states yet to finalize new U.S. House districts as required every 10 years to reflect population changes. The issue must be decided by June 1, the first day of the filing period for the September primary.
Under the vetoed plan, the 1st District would have covered the southeast corner of the state and be tilted slightly toward Republicans, while the 2nd District would have covered the western half of the state and the north country and become slightly more Democratic. More than two dozen towns and cities comprising nearly a third of the state’s population would have switched districts, including Manchester.
Oral arguments on the court's plan will be held Tuesday.