Oregon officials, experts to discuss legislative redistricting at April 19 event

by Tim Johnson,

This spring, the U.S. Supreme Court will issue a historic decision in Gill v. Whitford — the most important legislative-redistricting case in recent years. However, by the time the Supreme Court issues its decision, Oregon’s leaders and redistricting experts already will have started to contemplate cutting-edge approaches to Oregon’s district-drawing process in a public, educational event in Willamette University’s Mudd Building on April 19 from 9 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

At the event, Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, former Secretary of State Phil Keisling and Oregon’s Solicitor General Benjamin Gutman will convene with legislative redistricting experts Jowei Chen of the University of Michigan and Paul Diller of Willamette University to discusses the past, present and future of legislative redistricting in Oregon.

“I’m proud to help Willamette University provide a forum both to educate the community about cutting-edge methods of redistricting and to debate the possibility of using those approaches here in Oregon,” said Tim Johnson, director of Willamette University’s Center for Governance and Public Policy Research, which is sponsoring this event.

“Willamette is fortunate to have a long-term relationship with one of the world’s top redistricting experts, Jowei Chen, who is a faculty member at the University of Michigan and a research fellow in the Center for Governance and Public Policy Research,” Johnson added. “Jowei brings Oregon the opportunity to learn about ways to reduce partisan bias in the redistricting process so that we can avoid the costly and bitter legal challenges that often result from fights over gerrymandering.”

The event also promises to highlight Oregon’s tradition of bipartisanship by including current and former Oregon Secretaries of State from both sides of the political aisle.

“Secretary Richardson and former Secretary Keisling deserve credit for being willing to share the stage at this event,” Johnson said. “In many states, it would be hard to fathom a Republican and a Democratic joining together to discuss a topic as politically charged as redistricting, but Secretary Richardson and former Secretary Keisling will be doing just that. Their presence will be a physical symbol of Oregon’s bipartisan spirit.”

Secretary Richardson reinforces that bipartisan ethos.

“Oregonians want fair, nonpartisan redistricting that empowers the citizens,” said Secretary Richardson. “I thank Dr. Tim Johnson for his leadership in convening this important discussion and am excited to participate. Please join us.”

The event, furthermore, will showcase Oregon’s local experts on redistricting.

“Every time the Supreme Court hears a case, it accepts legal and scholarly analyses in the form of amicus curiae briefs,” Johnson said. “For the Gill v. Whitford case, the Supreme Court received briefs authored or co-authored by Solicitor General Benjamin Gutman, Paul Diller of Willamette University’s College of Law, and Jowei Chen of the University of Michigan and Willamette’s Center for Governance and Public Policy Research. All of these individuals will be at our April 19th event and they will be sharing their deep expertise of redistricting with the rest of us. It promises to be an exceptional event and I encourage all members of the community to join us.”

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