The independent tiebreaker on the New Jersey Congressional Redistricting Commission says that he the Democratic map he selected “better satisfied the standards for partisan fairness but acknowledged that his public statement that he votes for the map because the Republican map won out ten years ago was wrong.
The tiebreaker, former Supreme Court Justice John E. Wallace, Jr., was ordered by the court last week to amplify his reasons for siding with the Democrats.
“Upon reflection, I realize I mistakenly failed to consider my team’s evaluation of Partisan Fairness of the maps. I should have been more concerned with the fairness to the citizens of New Jersey,” Wallace said. “Simply put, I should have stated that the Democrats’ map better satisfied the standard for Partisan Fairness.”
Wallace said that he was “particularly impressed in the manner and substance of the initial presentation by the Democrats of their proposed districts.”
“Each of the six Commissioners discussed at least two proposed districts describing many of the community interest and referred to various citizen recommendations presented during the public hearings,” Wallace stated. “The Republicans, on the other hand, presented their proposed districts by their experts and did not refer to public testimony to the degree the Democrats did. Thus, the Democrats’ presentation helped to reinforce my decision to select their map.”
Wallace criticized the both sides for not sharing maps – something that Democrats and Republicans say was the tiebreaker’s decision.
“The unfortunate part of how the process unfolded is that neither delegation took the opportunity to share their map with the other side,” Wallace said. “It was only my team that had the opportunity to review and evaluate both maps prior to the final hearing.”
The 79-year-old Wallace praised both parties for being “very kind to me as each delegation sought my vote.”
“I confirm my decision to vote in favor of the Democrats’ map for the additional reasons that their map better met the standard of Partisan Fairness and the Democrats gave a more impressive presentation of the reasons for the districts, utilizing citizen testimony from the public hearings,” said Wallace.
Wallace said that he didn’t describe statewide partisan fairness tests he used to evaluable the two maps.
“If my team had discussed with each delegation that their map would be evaluated by the social science accepted partisan evaluation techniques outlined above, I would have stated that Standard 5 for Partisan Fairness tipped the scales in favor of the Democrats’ map,” Wallace said. “Because my team did not inform each delegation that we would use these tests to evaluate their maps, I determined that further considerations were necessary to choose a map.”
Republicans are challenging the map and have asked the Supreme Court to consider conflicts of interest involving Wallace.
The Democratic Congressional Redistricting Commission chair, Janice Fuller, said her legal counsel asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the GOP lawsuit “because it is absolutely meritless and based solely on partisan hyperbole.”
“Members of the Redistricting Commission do not get to run to the Supreme Court simply because their map was not approved by the majority,” Fuller said. “The new congressional map adopted by the Commission is legally valid and the lawsuit is nothing more than political theater. We are confident that the court will recognize the overwhelming legal evidence that contradicts all of the Republicans’ claims and dismiss their lawsuit.”
Doug Steinhardt, the Republican chairman, didn’t show any signs of backing down.
“As predicted, Chairman Wallace made an anemic attempt to backtrack on a clear statement he read from a script at the hearing. The notion that the Democrats’ map is better on political fairness is as ridiculous and it is indefensible,” Steinhardt said. “Even Planscore’s evaluation of both maps confirms our position that the Democratic map is a significant partisan gerrymander. Final resolution will have to await our day in court. ”Clerk ltr & Response to Order Requesting Amplification