Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
I posted about the filing of the latest GOP lawsuit assault on the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC) back in August, AIRC Update: Tea-Publican deadbeats sue the AIRC with your tax dollars to overturn Prop. 106 that created the AIRC.
Last Friday, the Arizona Legislature filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction and requested consolidation of the hearing with a trial on the merits. Steve Muratore at the Arizona Eagletarian blog posted a good summary. More GOP Legislative Contempt for Arizona Voters...:
Last Friday, attorneys acting on behalf of majority Republicans in the Arizona Legislature filed a brief asking a federal court to essentially immediately and permanently nullify the Congressional district map currently in use.
...Arizona State Legislature hereby moves this Court to preliminarily enjoin the enforcement of Article VI, part 2, section 1 of the Arizona Constitution insofar as it takes the power to establish congressional districts away from the Legislature and conveys it to the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission; as well as the use of any federal redistricting maps created by the Commission; and additionally moves to consolidate the hearing on this motion with the trial on the merits.
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In explaining their rationale (as irrational as it may be), the GOP counsel states:
In 2000, a voter-generated referendum, Proposition 106 (hereinafter “Prop. 106”), removed the Legislature’s constitutional role in that process and granted it instead to the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (hereinafter “IRC”), an unelected, nonrepresentative body.
"Voter-generated referendum" is the code they want to use to hide -- or at least minimize -- the fact that it was really an actual legislative act** conducted by citizen initiative. Technically, yes, the citizens acting in a legislative capacity DID relieve the Legislature of its role in redistricting. I've been over that issue hundreds of times. Case law as cited in the AIRC briefs in this lawsuit makes it crystal clear.
I explained at length in my post above why the case of the Tea-Publican legislators seeking to overturn Prop. 106 in their contempt for the will of the voters is not supported by case precedent and is lacking in merit.
This lawsuit generated a rare editorial opinion today from the Arizona Daily Star which almost never expresses an opinion on a substantive issue any longer. Arizona Republicans need to change themselves, not legislative boundaries:
Republicans in the Legislature continued their shameless attack on the Independent Redistricting Commission last week, this time asking a federal court to take away the commission’s power to redraw congressional districts just in time for the 2014 elections.
The commission is already fighting three lawsuits — including one by the Legislature — that seek to have the 2010 redistricting maps thrown out on the grounds that … well, things didn’t go as well for Republican candidates as they’d hoped.
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Not chastened by the Arizona Supreme Court’s rebuke of their last political stunt, their attempted removal of commission Chairwoman Colleen Mathis, Republicans are willing to keep pushing the issue to slant the playing field in their favor.
It is time they stopped fighting the will of the people in court and concentrate on winning elections the old-fashioned way: by offering up ideas and proposals voters will support.
The Independent Redistricting Commission, established through a ballot measure in 2000 that amended the state constitution and took away redistricting power from the Legislature, is a victim of its own success.
Its goals — to draw districts without regard to political parties, following geographic and common-sense boundaries and taking into account community interests — have clearly irked the party in power.
The lawsuit backed by GOP lawmakers argues voters had no legal authority to take their power to redraw legislative district lines because the U.S. Constitution states that authority rests with the Legislature. Their new effort on congressional districts makes a similar argument.
As reported in the Star, lawyers for the commission said the U.S. Supreme Court has been clear that the power to redraw districts is not the exclusive domain of the Legislature. Redistricting commissions in other states have faced similar legal challenges and won.
Republican efforts are not only a waste of time and energy — they also are a waste of money. The commission spent more than $2 million last fiscal year defending itself against suits. That’s $2 million in taxpayer money the Legislature approved to fight itself.
While districts can never be completely equal, the redistricting commission has done a good job of balancing the requirements it must work under (see box). A quick look at the latest Arizona voter registration report, which notes voters’ party affiliation, shows no district has an insurmountable advantage for either party.
Looking at congressional races since the commission was established, the balance of power has fluctuated between Republicans and Democrats. These shifts are as it should be. There should be no “safe district” for any party if we hope to have lawmakers compromise for the good of all.
If Republicans look to their recent loses and want to reverse the trend, they should seek to change themselves, not the system.
The three lawsuits are:
Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission - the most recent case filed in U.S. District Court, discussed above.
Leach v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission - challenge to the congressional district maps, will go to trial in the Maricopa County Superior Court in early 2014.
Harris v. AIRC - challenge to the state legislative district maps, which has been fully briefed and awaiting the order of the U.S. District Court 3-judge panel.