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The 1970s: 1971

No Compromise

As 1971 approached, the Legislature again faced the difficult task of redistricting. Large imbalances between districts still existed, and newspapers predicted that legislators might try to avoid almost certain deadlock by postponing the issue to another session. No one party could dominate, as the Democrats controlled the Senate, but the Republicans held the governor's office and a majority in the House.

The mastermind of past Democratic redistricting efforts, Senator Bob Greive, again took the lead in developing his party's redistricting proposals. His former Republican counterpart, Slade Gorton, had moved from the House to the position of Attorney General; Representatives Sid Morrison and Art Brown of the Elections and Apportionment Committee and House Speaker Thomas Swayze publicly headed the Republican efforts. Both sides tried to protect their slim legislative majorities and despite long negotiations, could not reach an acceptable compromise. The session ended without a plan.

The Legislature's failure to redistrict prompted Mercer Island attorney George Prince to seek a judicial remedy in July 1971. In Prince v. Kramer, et.al, filed in United States District Court, Prince specifically asked the court to assume jurisdiction and ensure redistricting before the 1972 election. In August the court declared the 1965 redistricting legislation invalid and ordered that the state hold no more elections under these laws. A three-judge panel made up of U.S. District Court judges William L. Beeks and Walter McGovern and Judge Gilbert Jertberg of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments and gave the Legislature a brief reprieve. The court set a deadline of February 25, 1972, for the legislators to complete a redistricting plan or have the court appoint someone else to take over the task.


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