Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A brief look at the AZ redistricting case to be heard by the Supreme Court today

SCOTUS is scheduled to hear oral arguments today (Dec 8) in the matter of Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. Evan Wyloge at the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting has a very readable article on the main issues and some reasons why the Court might want to leave the AZ maps in place. Snippets follow.

The lawsuit is based on the fact that the state’s Republican-leaning legislative districts are overpopulated, while Democratic-leaning and minority-heavy districts are underpopulated.

The court could rule that the current maps violate the one person, one vote equal protection clause of The U.S. Constitution. The appellants want the commission to redraw the maps, which would tilt the state legislature further in favor of Republicans.

Such a ruling could immediately open the door for similar litigation in more than a dozen other states where state legislative district populations are not exactly equal.

And there lies the problem for SCOTUS.

A brief by the U.S. Solicitor General supporting the commission explained that if the court rules against the current map 16 state legislative district maps could face immediate challenges.

Legal analysts note that the Court has grounds to avoid a ruling with such ramifications. However, the partisan Court could find some way to justify doing exactly that - and handing Republicans even more clout at state Legislatures.

... if the court rules against the current maps, it would likely benefit Republicans across the country. Underpopulated, minority-heavy districts tend to be more Democratic, because of the same need for Voting Rights Act compliance that influenced Arizona’s map.

Let's hope the Court won't cave to partisan instincts.

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