Supreme Court takes care of loose ends

Editor’s note: This is the Journal’s weekly roundup of campaign news.

DENVER — The state Supreme Court tied up some loose ends on this November’s congressional election Monday.

Last year a Denver judge established new congressional districts, choosing a map drawn by Democrats over a Republican plan to make only minor changes to the current districts.

Republicans appealed to the Supreme Court, which ruled for the Democrats in December in a brief opinion. The court did not publish its full opinion until now.

The Democratic map drew brand-new districts on the Front Range and Eastern Plains in a way that imperils U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora.

Chief Justice Michael Bender wrote that the Democrats’ map better reflects current “communities of interest” — a legal criteria courts must use. Bender wrote that the Democratic map tackles “the challenges of today and tomorrow — and not the challenges of yesterday.”

Six justices agreed with the lower court’s choice of the Democrats map. Only one — Allison Eid — dissented.

The Democratic map moved nearly 1.4 million people into new districts, Eid noted.

“This seismic shift is all the more astonishing given that Colorado did not gain or lose a congressional seat in the last census,” Eid wrote.

Eid was appointed by former Republican Gov. Bill Owens. So was Nathan Coats, who agreed with the majority opinion but invited the Legislature to try to draw a new map next year.

The court’s newest justice, Brian Boatright, is a Republican, although he was appointed by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper. Boatright voted with the majority to uphold the Democratic map.

Perhaps most importantly, the high court’s opinion enshrines a legal precedent for drawing districts that are politically competitive. Democrats pushed most of the year for competitive districts, while Republicans argued such districts had no legal basis.

“We hold that consideration of competitiveness is consistent with the ultimate goal of maximizing fair and effective representation,” the Supreme Court opinion said.

They get around: U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, was scheduled to be at town hall meetings Friday in Glenwood Springs and Walden.

His opponent, state Rep. Sal Pace, D-Pueblo, plans to campaign in Durango today at 9:30 a.m. at Carver Brewing Co., 1022 Main Ave. and in Pagosa Springs at 2 p.m. at Chato’s Restaurant, 230 Country Center Dr.

More 3rd C.D. ads: Another outside group has joined the advertising blitz against Tipton. Public Campaign, a left-leaning group from Washington, D.C., launched a television campaign Friday to criticize Tipton for donations from the oil industry. The Colorado Wildlife Federation and the Checks and Balances Project already are running ads about Tipton’s votes on oil bills.

Countdown: 248 days until the election.