Last reviewed October 2005
Resources on Minnesota Issues
This guide is compiled by staff at the Minnesota Legislative Reference
Library on a topic of interest to Minnesota legislators. It is designed
to provide an introduction to the topic, directing the user to a variety
of sources, and is not intended to be exhaustive.
The 1990 Federal Census necessitated the redistricting of the state's
legislative and congressional boundaries due to major population shifts
over the past decade. Minnesota's Legislature is made up of 134 House
and 67 Senate seats. By law, each House district is required to have
an equal number of people. In order to achieve this, legislative and
congressional boundary lines must be redrawn after each Census. The
1990 Census showed Minnesota's population to have grown to 4,375,099.
Ideally, each Senate district should have approximately 65,300 citizens
while the average House district would be half this size, or 32,650
people. Redistricting is an intensely political endeavor and never more
controversial than during the 1991-1992 session. The following is a
brief chronology of events leading up to the final redistricting plan.
The redistricting battle began early in January 1991 as a suit was
filed in Hennepin County requesting the courts to take over redistricting
from the Legislature. In June, a three-judge state panel was appointed
to hear this suit. In March, another suit was filed in U.S. District
Court in Minneapolis challenging any redistricting plan on the grounds
it would discriminate against minorities. A three-judge federal panel
was selected in April to hear this suit.
On May 18, the Legislature approved a DFL sponsored legislative plan
(Laws of Minnesota 1991, Chapter 246). This plan
was scheduled to become law on August 1, 1991. Gov. Arne Carlson vetoed
the bill, but in August, the veto was declared invalid as he missed
the constitutional deadline to veto the bill and it became law. (Seventy-Seventh Minnesota State Senate v. Carlson, No. C3-91-7547
(2nd Dist. Ramsey County Aug. 2, 1991).
After Gov. Carlson decided not to appeal the veto decision, the Independent-Republicans
filed suit in federal court challenging the redistricting legislation.
This suit was consolidated with the suit which had been filed in March.
Meanwhile, the state court panel ruled in October that the DFL redistricting
plan was unconstitutional and full of errors. The court panel decided
to draw up a new plan based on the DFL plan.
In November, the state court panel ruled that its proposed redistricting
plan would become effective January 21, 1992, unless Gov. Carlson and
the Legislature could agree on a plan. The following month federal judges,
in a 2-1 decision, ordered the state panel to halt all work on redistricting
since this would inhibit lawmakers from developing their own plan.
The redistricting debate was then sent to the U.S. Supreme Court.
DFL interests filed an appeal of federal injunction and asked for an
expedited decision before January 6, 1992.
A special legislative session was called in January 1992. The Senate
and House approved plans for congressional districts and corrected mistakes
in the legislative redistricting map. These plans were vetoed by Gov.
Carlson on January 11, but the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled on January
10 to remove the federal court injunction on the state court panel plan.
This allowed the state court legislative plan to become effective.
In February 1992, the U.S. district court panel developed a plan and
ruled that the state court plan was unlawful because it violated minority
voting interests, especially in Minneapolis. The following month, Secretary
of State, Joan Growe, and DFL leaders appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court
to stop the federal court plan from being implemented. Supreme Court
Justice Harry Blackmun ruled in favor of the state court plan for legislative
districts and for the federal court plan for the congressional district
lines. Later in March, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear challenges
to the redistricting plans after the 1992 elections.
The redistricting process was completed, at least until after the
1992 elections. The state court plan, similar to the DFL plan, was used
in the November elections and the federal court plan was used for congressional
On February 23, 1993, the U.S. Supreme Court made a final ruling on the redistricting
plan for Minnesota. (Growe v. Emison, 507
U.S. 25 1993). The U.S. Congressional district plan, drawn up by the panel
of federal judges, was replaced by the plan that had been drawn up by the three
state judges. This changed the boundaries substantially for the Third and Sixth
Congressional Districts, but did not invalidate any of the 1992 election results.
The U.S. Supreme Court allowed the state's legislative district plan to stand,
dismissing a challenge by Independent-Republicans.
Laws of Minnesota 1991, chapter 246 changed the boundaries
of legislative districts. The law was vetoed by Governor Carlson. However, in
August 1991, the veto was declared invalid and it became law. The Governor had
missed the constitutional deadline to veto the bill. Related legislation: Laws
of Minnesota 1991, chapter 358 (Senate File 1596) relating to technical and
other corrections to the legislative redistricting plan was vetoed. Laws of
Minnesota 1991, chapter 357 (Senate File 1597) relating to elections; changing
the boundaries of congressional districts was also vetoed. These two vetoes remained
Laws of Minnesota 1994, chapter 612 amending Laws of Minnesota 1991 chapter 246.
House Redistricting Committee Records, 1987-1994. For further research, Committee records
and other materials relating to legislative and congressional
reapportionment, as collected by the House Redistricting
Committee, are available in the Minnesota History Center.
SIGNIFICANT BOOKS AND REPORTS:
1992 Congressional Districts. St. Paul: Legislative Coordinating Commission,
Subcommittee on Redistricting, 1992. (JK2493.N56 1992) (Contains 8 1/2 x 11 maps
plus reports and statistics. Cost $3.00.
1992 Legislative Districts. St. Paul: Legislative Coordinating Commission,
Subcommittee on Redistricting, 1992. (JK6168.N56 1992)
Wattson, Peter. 1990s
Supreme Court Redistricting Decisions. St. Paul: Minnesota
Senate, Senate Counsel and Research, 1997. (JK1341.W38 1997)
Enacting a Redistricting Plan. St. Paul: Minnesota Senate,
Senate Counsel and Research, 1997.
Wattson, Peter. How
to Draw Redistricting Plans That Will Stand Up in Court. St.
Paul: Minnesota Senate, Senate Counsel and Research, 1999.
Outline of Redistricting Litigation. St. Paul: Minnesota Senate,
Senate Counsel and Research, 1997. (JK1341.W384 1997)
SIGNIFICANT INTERNET RESOURCES:
Minnesota Redistricting Cases: the 1990's -- Lists of cases. Links are provided when available.
Redistricting Issues Area -- An excellent resource for obtaining up-to-date
information, by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
ADDITIONAL LIBRARY RESOURCES:
For historical information, check the following codes in the Newspaper Clipping File and
the Vertical File: A34 (Apportionment), A34.4 (Apportionment -
For additional reports at the Legislative Reference Library, use these Library
For further information on redistricting see: