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Final briefs filed in redistricting lawsuit

Arizona redistricting mapAttorneys for the Independent Redistricting Commission and Republican voters filed their final written briefs Wednesday in a lawsuit to determine whether Arizona’s legislative map should be redrawn.

The briefs were filed more than a week after the end of a four-day trial in U.S. District Court in Phoenix in which Republican voters alleged the IRC’s two Democrats and chairwoman conspired to gerrymander the map to the advantage of Democrats by diluting Republican votes. The IRC denied the allegations and asserted in its brief the Republicans failed to prove their case.

IRC attorneys Colin Campbell and Joseph Kanefield argue in their brief that the plaintiffs changed their theory by the end of trial because they had no direct evidence of bad intent.

“. . . they now urge the Court to strike down the legislative map because the Commission did more than Plaintiffs say was required to comply with the Voting Rights Act; because an unnecessary exercise in discretion, even for a constitutionally valid purpose, is enough to infer an improper motive,” the attorneys wrote. The Voting Rights Act includes a provision that some districts must be likely to elect minority candidates.

The attorneys wrote that the theory is contrary to the facts presented at trial, decades of case law and principles governing redistricting and the courts’ role.

Plaintiffs’ attorney David Cantelme argued in his brief the IRC followed poor legal advice of Bruce Adelson to under-populate districts to comply with the Voting Rights Act.

Cantelme wrote that poor legal advice is no defense and the Voting Rights Act doesn’t authorize the deviations the IRC “deliberately and intentionally engaged in after it reconvened on November 29, 2011.”

“In practical effect, the Adelson advice is a backdoor means of maximizing the number of minority districts, despite Congress’s directive that such was not required or even a goal of Section 5 (of the Voting Rights Act),” Cantelme wrote.

The plaintiffs are asking the three-judge panel to order the maps to be redrawn.

The GOP lost its supermajority in the Legislature since the new map took effect and Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state’s congressional delegation. Democrats say the new maps simply reflect Arizona’s more diverse electorate.

Colin and Kanefield wrote that the map strongly favors Republicans, who hold 17 seats in the Senate and 36 in the House, and they will probably retain control for the decade.

“The idea that the Commission would overpopulate Anglo Republican districts for the purpose of invidious discrimination, yet create a map that ultimately over represents Republicans in the Legislature makes no sense unless it was part of a wholly illogical Democratic scheme to entrench itself as the minority party,” Campbell and Kanefield wrote.

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