Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Howard Fischer reports today that the lawyers/lobbyists for the GOP's secretive redistricting organization FAIR Trust, representing the Arizona GOP, have filed their brief requested by the U.S. District Court of Arizona in Harris v. AIRC on the question of the effects of Shelby County v. Holder on this case. GOP lawyer asks court to order new legislative districts for '14:
Arizona's 30 legislative districts need to be redrawn before the 2014 election, an attorney for Republican interests contends, citing the U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling that voided a key section of the Voting Rights Act.
In legal papers filed in federal court late Friday, attorney David Cantelme said the Independent Redistricting Commission's data show that it overpopulated some of the districts and underpopulated others.
he result was to politically disadvantage Republican candidates, he said.
Cantelme also pointed out to the three-judge panel that the commission's key legal argument for why it made those decisions was that it needed to comply with the federal Voting Rights Act.
Commissioners wanted to ensure that the map it drew was "precleared" by the U.S. Justice Department and didn't dilute the voting strength of minorities.
Howard Fischer's stenographic reporting for the the lawyers/lobbyists of the GOP's secretive redistricting organization FAIR Trust has been a persistent problem from day one. It is misleading and misinforms readers.
As I have posted several times, the population disparity argument the GOP is pursuing is a nonstarter. Cantelme's argument that state legislative district populations must be strictlly equal is not supported at law. The U.S. Supreme Court has permitted population deviations to accommodate other legitimate concerns.
The U.S. Supreme Court just last year (Tennant v. Jefferson Co. Commission et.al. 567 U.S. ___ 2012) upheld a West Virginia congressional map that differed in population between districts by as much as 4,871 people. Lyle Denniston wrote at SCOTUSblog.com, Opinion recap: Hedging on “one person, one vote”:
“Zero variance” in population is not the new constitutional norm for redistricting, the Court made clear. Just because computers can produce almost exactly equal-sized districts, the Constitution does not require it, the decision said.
After sitting on the case from West Virginia all summer long, the Court produced an eight-page, unsigned ruling that largely deferred to the wishes of that state’s legislature on how to craft the three districts for choosing its House delegation. The opinion can be found here. The new ruling came in the case of Tennant v. Jefferson County Commission (docket 11-1184).
"The equal population standard for congressional districts is notably stricter than for legislative or other types of political districts. In contrast, state and local redistricting followed a “substantially equal” standard, which translated to a rough rule/guideline allowing most maps a 10% deviation. While not a clear cut rule, it has become an operational standard in the redistricting community." U.S. Supreme Court Elaborates on Equal Population Requirement.
As for the effects of Shelby County v. Holder on this case, the attorneys for the AIRC are correct: it is legally irrelevant to this case.
Attorneys for the commission give their response to Cantelme's argument next month.
But attorney Joe Kanefield said the Supreme Court ruling is legally irrelevant. He said the commission, in drawing the maps in 2011, had to rely on the law as it stood at the time.
The Supreme Court ruling came a year after Cantelme first sued.
As I have said before, Arizona's redistricting was a completed act. At the time of pre-clearance approval by the DOJ and the 2012 election, the VRA was constitutional and the law of the land for almost 50 years. There was no constitutional infirmity. I agree with the AIRC's attorney Joe Kanefield that Shelby County v. Holder is "legally irrelevant to this case."
What the Arizona GOP is arguing is that it wants to take a trip in Mr. Peabody's WAYBAC time machine to go back in time to when the AIRC submitted its maps to the DOJ and to apply Shelby County v. Holder retrospectively to invalidate the DOJ pre-clearance process as if it never happened. This is not how the law works. Shelby County v. Holder applies prospectively to redistricting after the decision, it does not apply retrospectively to completed acts of redistricting prior to the decision. The rule of law demands finality.
The Arizona GOP is pursuing losing arguments, but you would never know this from reading Howard Fischer's stenographic reporting. He keeps holding out false hope to GOP partisans.
For those of you following this case closely, here is the remaining briefing schedule:
AIRC Defendant's brief is due by August 2;
Plaintiff's reply is due by August 9.
The order does not indicate oral argument, but the parties could request it.