Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What the AZ Lege vs. AIRC lawsuit was all about: "Phouls in Phoenix", a play in three acts

There's lots of chatter in the mainstream media and blogosphere about this case. Back in March, however, Nina Totenberg (NPR, All Things Considered) summed it up in two paragraphs.

In 2000, Arizona voters approved a ballot initiative to amend the state Constitution and take legislative redistricting out of the hands of the state legislature. Instead, the voters gave most of the redistricting power to an independent commission, composed of two Republicans, two Democrats, and an Independent chair. In a state with 35 percent registered Republicans, 35 percent Independents, and 30 percent Democrats, the congressional map the commission drew had four safe Republican seats, two safe Democratic seats, and three competitive districts.

Infuriated Republican state legislators wanted a bigger slice of the pie, however, and after the Arizona Supreme Court frustrated their effort to fire the commission's chair, they challenged the commission as unconstitutional, appealing all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

And thereby wasting gobs of money, time, and effort that could have been channeled to pressing problems like funding education. But these are the actors in the stage play "Phouls in Phoenix."

Note. Phoul is variously defined as a foolish ghoul or a ghoulish fool. Either is correct. Phouls reside in Phoenix and dine on the flesh of our social institutions that serve the young, poor, and sick.

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