Mid-afternoon on Friday, the state Supremes released their reapportionment opinions.
We're still reading, but a skimming review shows them skewering the timeline that the legislative commission followed as well as commending one of the citizen challenges for proving that a plan with fewer splits of political subdivisions is possible.
From our breaking news page:
The state Supreme Court issued a lengthy opinion this afternoon regarding the state's legislative redistricting plan they rejected last week, offering its first details on that decision.
The 87-page majority opinion declared that the new maps adopted in December divided too many localities among separate districts.
While maintaining a near-equal number of residents in state House and Senate districts is a priority, map-drafters also must consider "contiguity, compactness, and the integrity of political subdivisions" in setting boundaries, the justices wrote.
That opinion, written by Republican Chief Justice Ronald Castille and signed by the three Democratic justices, also criticized the five-member Legislative Reapportionment Commission for not approving those new maps until December.
"We recognize that our constitutional duty to remand a plan found contrary to law has disrupted the 2012 primary election landscape," states the majority opinion.
"That disruption was unavoidable in light of the inexcusable failure of the LRC to adopt a final plan promptly so as to allow the citizenry a meaningful opportunity to appeal prior to commencement of the primary season."
The opinion gave no timeline for when the commission should draft new boundaries. The justices also declined to weigh in on whether the April 24 primary or pending special elections for legislative vacancies should be delayed, calling that issue a matter for "the political branches."
The court also released three other opinions: a dissent from Republican Justice Joan Orie Melvin, as well as concurring and dissenting opinions from Republican justices Thomas Saylor and Michael Eakin.