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United States District Court for the Western District of Washington
April 13, 2022, Decided; April 13, 2022, Filed
Cause No. C22-5035RSL
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS AND DENYING MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION
This matter comes before the Court on the "Motion [*3] to Dismiss Defendants Laurie Jinkins and Andrew Billig" (Dkt. # 37) and "Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction" (Dkt. # 38). Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit to challenge the redistricting plan for Washington's state legislative districts, alleging that the Washington State Redistricting Commission ("the Commission") intentionally configured District 15 in a way that cracks apart politically cohesive Latino/Hispanic1 populations and placed the district on a non-presidential election year cycle in order to dilute Latino voters' ability to elect candidates of their choice. Plaintiffs assert a claim under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act ("VRA"), 52 U.S.C. § 10301(a), and request that the Court enjoin defendants from utilizing the existing legislative map and order the implementation and use of a valid state legislative plan that does not dilute, cancel out, or minimize the voting strength of Latino voters in the Yakima Valley.
Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit on January 19, 2022, after the Commission completed its redistricting tasks but before the legislature approved amendments to the plan under RCW 44.05.100(2). The redistricting plan became final on February 8, 2022. The motion for preliminary injunctive relief was filed on February 25, 2022, and [*4] was noted on the Court's calendar for consideration on March 25th pursuant to LCR 7(d)(3). In their motion, plaintiffs request that the Court enjoin defendants from using the existing legislative plan and require them to adopt a state legislative plan that complies with Section 2 of the VRA. Plaintiffs assert that it is possible to draw a lawful legislative district in the Yakima area, but they did not provide a replacement legislative district map with their motion.
Defendants are Steven Hobbs, Washington's Secretary of State, Laurie Jinkins, the Speaker of the Washington State House of Representatives, and Andy Billig, the Majority Leader of the Washington State Senate. All three defendants argue that they had nothing to do with the adoption of the challenged plan, that they lack the power to redraw or change the final plan that was approved by the Commission and amended by the legislature pursuant to RCW 44.05.100, and that they have been improperly named as defendants. Secretary Hobbs argues that the Commission, the members of the Commission in their official capacities, and/or the State of Washington should be joined as defendants to ensure that a proper and adverse party can mount a meaningful defense to plaintiffs' claims. [*5] 2 Representative Jinkins and Senator Billig seek dismissal of the claims against them on the ground that plaintiffs failed to plausibly allege an entitlement to relief from either of them. They suggest that the House of Representatives and Senate as legislative bodies might be the appropriate defendants if plaintiffs are seeking to compel a vote to reconvene the Commission under RCW 44.05.120. The named defendants take no position on whether plaintiffs have demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of their VRA claim. Mr. Hobbs argues, however, that if preliminary relief is warranted, he and the local elections officers (typically the county auditors) would need to have the revised plan in hand at least five weeks before the May 2nd deadline for revising precinct boundaries — which was Monday, March 28. In reply, plaintiffs provide a proposed remedial plan and argue that, even if the Court were to order use of their plan after March 28th, "the state has ample time to administer the 2022 elections according to current deadlines," citing Wisconsin Legislature v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, 212 L. Ed. 2d 251, 2022 WL 851720, at *1 (U.S. 2022).
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68408 *; 2022 WL 1102196
SUSAN SOTO PALMER, et al., Plaintiffs, v. STEVEN HOBBS, et al., Defendants.
Subsequent History: Motion granted by Palmer v. Hobbs, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82552 (W.D. Wash., May 6, 2022)
election, maps, precinct, redistricting, deadline, voters, plaintiffs', candidates, legislative district, legislative plan, cycle, preliminary injunction, ballots, changes, revised, enjoin