REMARKS OF ATTORNEY GENERAL GEORGE JEPSEN
TO THE CONNECTICUT SUPREME COURT ON REDISTRICTING
(HARTFORD) - Attorney General George Jepsen made these remarks to the Connecticut Supreme Court this afternoon, Friday, December 30.
“The Office of the Attorney General expects to have a limited role in the proceedings contemplated by this court’s order.
“Unfortunately, the Commission did not finish the plan of districting, and to date the Attorney General has no further position to report on behalf of the Commission on any of the issues posited by the Court’s order.
“Specifically, the Office of the Attorney General takes no position on the individual the Court should appoint as a special master or the procedures the special master should undertake to complete this essentially legislative function.
“Looking forward, a role our office might play in these proceedings is one consistent with our “sui generis” role as described by this Court in the Special Revenue case. As the state’s chief civil law officer, my office is often called upon to defend the state’s laws when challenged and its officials when sued, serving as we do not only as the attorney for those state officials, but in service of our ultimate client, the people of the State of Connecticut.
“Whatever plan emerges, my office could be called upon to defend against a challenge. We take very seriously our role in protecting the integrity of this solemn process. For that reason, I respectfully request that the Court and/or any Special Master, permit, if necessary, my office to provide input on legal issues that may arise. It may be that no such input is necessary.
“I should add that as the State’s chief legal officer, I share the view of this Court, reflected in the last paragraph of its order, that there should be ongoing deference to the legislative process even at this late hour, including up to February 15th.
“As a manifestation of this deference, this Court should consider its constitutional mandate to be to finish the plan the Commission began, and it should continue to afford the Commission the opportunity to finish a plan of districting.
“I say that for three related reasons: First, it is their job and they should do it. Second, bipartisan legislative agreement advances democratic principles while also insulating this Court from any potential perception among the public that it is acting as a political body. Finally, I have grave concerns that by allowing this legislative function to be undertaken and completed by judicial officers, the option of last resort – judicial intervention - will too easily become the norm for future commissions and courts, none of which is in the best interests of the state’s citizens.