Redistricting in the 1970s initially followed a path that was similar to the
1960s, marked by party infighting and legal challenges. In May of 1971, the
Legislature adjourned without passing a redistricting bill. In July of that
year, a lawsuit, Prince v. Kramer, et.
al., was filed in the U.S. District Court to force the Legislature to
redistrict. After reviewing the case, the court declared the 1965 redistricting
measure unconstitutional and ordered that the state hold no further elections
under that law.
In September of 1971, the justices gave the Legislature a mandate:
redistrict by February 25, 1972,
or the court would take over. Unlike the 1965 session, however, the legislators
in 1972 were unable to compromise. February came and went, and there was no
True to its word, the court proceeded with
redistricting. The justices chose University of Washington
geography professor Richard Morrill as the master and
gave him the task of redrawing the state's legislative and congressional
boundaries. Morrill, who did not follow the practice of the legislators and use
political data or the location of incumbents to develop his proposal, finished
in the allotted one month. In April 1972, the U.S. District Court redistricted
the state based on Morrill's plan, setting an important new precedent.