Republicans are apparently so obsessed with carving up the Legislative map to suit their personal and ideological interests that they can’t agree on how to draw the Legislative districts:
The Senate’s map, House members say, intentionally seeks to pit conservative lawmakers that currently hold office against one another and draw some out of their districts entirely. For instance, should the Senate’s map be adopted, Reps. Jon Hansen and Tom Pischke, both Republicans from Dell Rapids who regularly butt-heads with moderate Republicans in the Legislature, would no longer be within the boundaries of District 25.
…[Senator Lee] Schoenbeck told the Argus Leader on Friday the House’s map, drafted by [Representative Drew] Dennert, is “gerrymandered” and looks like “they gave a monkey a switchblade and said carve up South Dakota.” He accused House members of inserting self interests into the process.
“The Speaker put people on the committee who’s goal is to draw lines to protect Legislators who have, let’s say, unique worldviews,” Schoenbeck said. “It’s the House committee taking care of a few of their friends” [Joe Sneve, “Redistricting Talks in South Dakota break Down as Deadline Looms,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2021.10.08].
Those Republicans are either so mad or so bad at doing a job the job they are charged with doing just once every ten years that they are willing to give up and let the Supreme Court draw the map:
Both camps say they’re prepared to let that happen.
“I don’t think it matters,” Schoenbeck said. “There’s a system set up and if the Legislature can agree on one, fine. If they can’t, I don’t think it will be that hard for the Supreme Court to finish the job” [Sneve, 2021.10.08].
Article 3 Section 5 of the South Dakota Constitution delegates redistricting to the Supreme Court if the Legislature fails to approve district maps by December 1.
Legislators are here making two great arguments for an independent redistricting commission. First, they are demonstrating in spades why they can’t be trusted to draw their own map. If they were focused on drawing maps for fair representation of all South Dakota voters, they wouldn’t be having any conversations about which of their incumbent colleagues would end up in which district. Individuals should never factor into determining district maps, yet our legislators are letting individual considerations stop them from carrying out their constitutional duty.
Second, Schoenbeck and the gang are endorsing the concept of an independent redistricting commission. The Supreme Court isn’t the nine-person, party-balanced, temporary team proposed by the LWV initiative petition, but they are five individuals who do not hold public office in the Executive or Legislative branch or in any political party. Justices Jensen, Kern, Salter, DeVaney, and Myren are unlikely to step down from the bench to run for Legislature, so there is little chance they would rig the map to suit their personal political ambitions. The justices are all Republican appointees, but they are insulated from Legislative pressures and have little stake in the personal intra-party squabbling that has led our august statesmen to this embarrassing impasse. The justices are far more likely than legislators to draw fair maps. Their doing so for the maps of the 2020s will provide a glittering example of how an independent redistricting commission can more effectively achieve the goal of fair, ungerrymandered districts that is apparently beyond the capacity of our current legislators.
Legislators, go ahead—throw in the towel. Give the Court the chance to prove that independent redistricting works.
And petitioners, cite this petty squabble in Pierre as evidence that your redistricting initiative is exactly what South Dakota needs to get past petty party politics and provide better representation for all South Dakotans.