DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Supreme Court issued a rare statement Thursday saying the court plans to take care of legislative redistricting if the Legislature isn't able to handle the task due to the delayed release of information by the U.S. Census.
Iowa lawmakers have been uncertain what to do after the Census acknowledged it would miss a March 31 deadline to release once-a-decade population figures used to redraw legislative boundaries. Because of delays blamed on the coronavirus pandemic, the federal agency instead will release the data in late summer or fall.
Because of that, the Iowa Legislature will likely be unable to meet a state constitutional requirement that reapportionment be approved by Sept. 15.
In a statement, the court said it has received questions about its response if the Legislature misses the deadline. After noting the court generally doesn't comment on matters that may come before it, it stated that: “If the general assembly is not able to meet the constitutional deadline, the supreme court tentatively plans to meet its constitutional responsibility by implementing a process which permits, to the extent possible, the redistricting framework presently set forth in Iowa Code chapter 42 to proceed after September 15.“
The court said its statement wasn't legally binding and that it likely wouldn't make future comments about redistricting.