New Hampshire Supreme Court approves new congressional map

By Christian Wade | The Center Square

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has set congressional maps for the state drawn by a special master after Republican Gov. Chris Sununu and lawmakers were unable to agree on a final redistricting plan.

On Tuesday, the court unveiled new maps for New Hampshire’s 1st and 2nd congressional districts that make only minor modifications to the current boundaries.

Under the court’s “least change” redistricting plan, five towns – Jackson, Albany, Sandwich, Campton and New Hampton – will move from the 1st District into the 2nd District for a balanced population. The new districts were drawn by Nathaniel Persily, a Stanford Law School professor appointed by the court.

The move makes New Hampshire the last state to finalize its new congressional maps ahead of November’s pivotal midterm elections. It came just one day before the beginning of the filing period to run for congressional seats, which runs June 1-10.

The Republican-majority Legislature approved two congressional redistricting plans, both of which would make the 1st District more Republican by shifting several GOP-leaning communities from the 2nd District. Both U.S. House of Representative seats are currently held by Democrats.

Sununu vetoed two maps approved by the House and Senate, saying the districts don’t “pass the smell test” and offering his own redistricting plan.

One plan vetoed by Sununu would have moved Manchester into the 2nd District; incumbent of the 1st District is Rep. Chris Pappas, a Manchester resident. Democrat Ann Kuster represents the 2nd District. Sununu called the move “unacceptable.”

Democrats, led by former House Speaker Terie Norelli, filed a legal challenge against the plan, alleging that it was unconstitutional and favored Republicans.

The lawsuit asked the court to toss out congressional maps and create new boundaries for the districts ahead of the 2022 elections.

Amid the impasse, the court vowed to take over the redistricting process if Sununu and legislative leaders couldn’t reach an agreement on new districts.

Lawyers for Republican legislative leaders argued before the Supreme Court that the state Constitution gave them broad authority over the redistricting process.

But justices disagreed with that argument, ruling that the political maps would be illegal based on changes in the state’s population.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia/Famartin