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GOP lawmakers seek to overturn redistricting commission’s authority to create maps

Republican lawmakers today authorized the Legislature to file a lawsuit challenging the state redistricting commission’s authority to draw congressional maps.

The House and Senate Wednesday approved a Republican motion authorizing Speaker Andy Tobin and Senate President Steve Pierce to file or join legal redistricting-related litigation.

The lawsuit authorized would challenge the authority of the Independent Redistricting Commission, based on a section of the U.S. Constitution, which states that “the times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the Legislature therof…”

That language, plaintiffs are expected to argue, means that only the Legislature has the authority to redraw congressional districts.

Paul Bender, a constitutional law professor at Arizona State University who also unsuccessfully applied to be the IRC’s chairman, said he doesn’t think such a lawsuit has much merit.

The “times, places and manner” referred to in the Constitution refer to the actual machinations of elections, Bender said.

Further, Bender said “the Legislature” referenced in that section means the state government more broadly. Examples of this can be found in the several parts of the Arizona Constitution where election processes are described.

“It means whatever processes the state has established for elections,” Bender said. “It includes the state constitution and citizen initiatives.”

Republicans in both chambers defended their authorization of the lawsuit by saying the issue has not been legally tested.

“The Legislature never did delegate this duty,” said Rep. Ted Vogt, R-Tucson. “It needs to be litigated. It needs to be tested.”

Bender said that such a lawsuit, if it were successful, would also have far-reaching effects for redistricting, and not just in Arizona. Five other states, California, Hawaii, Idaho, New Jersey and Washington, also have independent redistricting commissions.

The authority of those states’ commissions would also be called into question under the lawsuit proposed.

Further, Bender said, the next part of the same section of the Constitution states that “Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations…” Bender said that if the suit were successful in arguing that the section of the Constitution applies to redistricting, that Congress would be able to redraw states’ congressional districts, throwing the commonly held basics of redistricting practice into chaos.

Two Republican-backed lawsuits challenging both maps have already been filed. They ask courts to drawing of new maps and one requests an interim legislative map for use in this year’s elections.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

One comment

  1. Who picks the people on the board in charge of the maps?

    AZ Constitution
    PART 2. THE LEGISLATURE § 1. Senate; house of representatives; members; special session upon petition of members; congressional and legislative boundaries; citizen commissions Section 1. states:
    Independent Redistricting Committee consists of 5 members.

    Member 1 = Picked by the Majority Leader of the State Senate. (R)
    Member 2 = Picked by the Minority Leader of the State Senate. (D)
    Member 3 = Picked by the Majority Leader of the State House. (R)
    Member 4 = Picked by the Minority Leader of the State House. (D)

    Then the hand picked appointees, equally divided must choose the 5th Member, who will lead the commission.

    Member 5 = Chairman of the Committee

    AZ Constitution states:
    “At a meeting called by the secretary of state, the four independent redistricting commission members shall select by majority vote from the nomination pool a fifth member who shall not be registered with any party already represented on the independent redistricting commission and who shall serve as chair. If the four commissioners fail to appoint a fifth member within fifteen days, the commission on appellate court appointments or its designee, striving for political balance and fairness, shall appoint a fifth member from the nomination pool, who shall serve as chair. ”

    Pretty clear, maybe the people who legislate our laws, should first know the laws they control, maybe “reading” them after ALEC writes them would help? maybe?

    I’d settle for them following and enforcing the laws we have.

    They clearly don’t have the competence to create legislation to force their agenda down our throats with a super majority and also do the job they were elected to do.

    Once again, for the Republicans reading this…. They picked the members themselves, and law clearly states the committee’s ‘independent’ status, for sole purpose of eliminating the party in power from influencing redistricting.

    AZ Constitution states:
    “(15) Party registration and voting history data shall be excluded from the initial phase of the mapping process but may be used to test maps for compliance with the above goals. The places of residence of incumbents or candidates shall not be identified or considered. ”

    AZ Supreme Court upheld the AZ Constitution and reinstated the Chairman, and definitively shows a clear violation of the oath she took to uphold the Constitution and laws as the State of Arizona’s Governor.

    AZ State Constitution states:
    “The independent redistricting commission shall have sole authority to determine whether the Arizona attorney general or counsel hired or selected by the independent redistricting commission shall represent the people of Arizona in the legal defense of a redistricting plan.”

    We by law are supposed to be defending the Committee Chair. By not doing so, accompanied with even more litigation that has been expressly barred from the process would further violate our state constitution.

    How is that possible? Who enforces the law when super majority of prude stupid idiots violate the Constitution they took an oath to protect and defend?

    Our forefathers only gave us one tool to fix it, an election.

    Maybe we could elect people based on “competence and tolerance” over pink underwear and legislating solely to litigate established law.

    Arpaio is same, compare his legally defined job description, authorities, and jurisdiction to his actions without any federal investigations, his incompetence and flamboyance costs us in litigation, we pay. Leave Obama’s birth certificate to the professional idiots.

    (p.s. the math says Hispanic citizens could essentially control all elected positions within the decade — which provides the missing peice: Motive.)

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