Court approves U.S. House map — and map maker’s fee

The Connecticut Supreme Court adopted a congressional redistricting plan Friday that makes minimal changes in the state’s five U.S. House districts, and it ordered the legislature to pay the court-appointed special master who produced it a fee of $36,400.

The only news was the fee charged by Nathaniel Persily, the Columbia law professor chosen as special master in December after legislators failed to draw new districts. He precisely followed the court’s instructions in producing the new map, leaving no doubt as to the court’s acceptance.

“The Supreme Court’s adoption of the congressional reapportionment plan comes as no surprise, given the previous instructions it gave to the special master to pursue a ‘minimalist’ approach that comported with the Democrats’ request,” said House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk.

Final CD map

Democrats on the legislature’s bipartisan Reapportionment Commission had argued that the existing five U.S. House districts were politically fair and legally sound, requiring only slight changes to equalize their population.

“The current district lines have been proven fair and competitive over time,” said Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven.

Looney and Cafero are members of the Reapportionment Commission, which agreed on state legislative districts, but deadlocked over a new congressional map.

Republicans urged changes that would have smoothed the border of the oddly shaped 5th Congressional District, the product of a compromise a decade ago when Connecticut lost one of its six U.S. House seats. It was drawn to accommodate two incumbents, one Democrat and one Republican.

The 2001 map produced mixed results. Republicans won three of five seats in 2002 and 2004, while Democrats won four of five in 2006 and swept in 2008 and 2010.

“It’s not the fault of the current lines that the people of Connecticut decided to repudiate Republican congressional candidates as the decade went along,” Looney said. “The lines were fair from the beginning, and they continue to be fair, and we’re pleased that the court recognized that.”

The court appeared split during oral arguments a week ago, but the order issued Friday made no reference to how the justices voted.