GILLETTE — With some Wyoming residents feeling disenfranchised by the recent redistricting efforts in the Wyoming State Legislature, Gillette attorney Nick Carter plans to challenge HB32 at the Wyoming Supreme Court.
Carter said in an interview with the Herald that his clients are going to ask for a declaratory rights action. Basically, they are seeking a judgment that finds the recently-passed redistricting plan unconstitutional.
“The legislature is supposed to follow a two-pronged test,” Carter said. “First, one person, one vote. Second, the Wyoming Constitution states that, as much as is practical, redistricting should follow county lines. This redistricting plan is not even in the neighborhood of following those lines.”
Senator Stan Cooper, who represents Uinta, Lincoln, Sublette and Sweetwater counties, told the Herald that while a lot of people are unhappy with the way redistricting worked out, the committee did the best job they could, under the circumstances.
“There will always be someone who gets left out, or moved to another district,” Cooper said. “Numbers trump everything, and you can only have so many people in a house or senate district.”
According to town of Bear River Mayor Robin Rhodes, Bear River has joined as a plaintiff in the lawsuit, as well as Rock River, a community in Albany County that was also adversely affected by redistricting.
Other plaintiffs in the case include Eric Barlow, of Gillette; Mike Huzie, of Diamondville; Tom Dunlop, of Niobrara County; and Tracy Hunt, of Newcastle, among others.
According to a Feb. 23 letter to legislators, Carter wrote that the redistricting plan systematically destroys the functional integrity of Wyoming counties, and ignores the requirement to apportion the House and Senate districts, as much as practicable, along county lines.
Carter said his firm is finalizing the draft, and hopes to have it filed with the Wyoming Supreme Court by the first part of April. Following that filing, the Wyoming Attorney General, Evanston native Greg Phillips, will have some time to respond.
“Or,” quipped Carter, “they could just acquiesce.”
Carter said it is unknown how long the Supreme Court will need to review the documents and pass judgment.