Arizona needs a cooling-off period on redistricting.
Republicans are spitting nails over the state Supreme Court's decision to reinstate Colleen Mathis as chairwoman of the Independent Redistricting Commission -- just as Democrats were howling over her removal by Gov. Jan Brewer and the GOP-majority Senate.
The antagonism has reached corrosive levels -- with recall threats and overheated rhetoric -- that eat away public support and respect for our basic government institutions.
Everyone needs to cool it. On all sides.
I am extremely disappointed that the Court has chosen to reinstate a biased czar to the Independent Redistricting Commission. By placing Ms. Mathis back at the helm of the Commission, the Court has substituted its opinion for the voice of the people through those they have actually elected to represent them. The Court has removed the last remaining check and balance on an unelected and unaccountable body that has spent months blatantly and proudly violating open meeting laws, meeting in secret, ignoring voter mandates and placating the Democrat Party and the Obama administration. If this Commission is not put to a stop, the Court’s decision means more secrecy and more gerrymandering from a body that has shown a disdain for the Constitution. Moving forward, I am putting all options on the table in an effort to protect our state from being hijacked by a partisan ploy to demolish the democratic process.Brewer's rhetoric:
With today’s decision, the court has substituted its judgment and authority for that which the voters specifically assigned to the governor,” Brewer said in the statement. “The chairwoman’s actions to meet in secret, arrange critical votes in advance of meetings and twist the words and spirit of the Constitution have been forgiven – if not endorsed outright. In the coming days, I’ll be considering my options as to how best to proceed.
Brewer and Tobin have a right to their own view. Tobin has a right to be disappointed.
Neither, however, has a right to her or his own law or own facts. And they certainly do not have a right to adjudicate any part of Arizona's Independent Redistricting Commission, impose demands on the commissioners or to do ANYTHING other than to make recommendations to the AIRC.
Arizona Constitution Article 4, Part 2, Section 1 (second half of paragraph 16)
Either or both bodies of the legislature may act within this period to make recommendations to the independent redistricting commission by memorial or by minority report, which recommendations shall be considered by the independent redistricting commission. The independent redistricting commission shall then establish final district boundaries.The state Constitution does not even grant that right to the governor.
The statements by Tobin and Brewer each take the liberty (steal it, actually, away from the people) of claiming the court decision was contrary to the will of the voters. Those statements could NOT be farther from the truth.
The Arizona Supreme Court apparently LISTENED to and actually CONSIDERED the will of the voters, as cited in the law and in briefs filed by the AIRC, Mathis and various friends of the Court.
On the OTHER hand, the Republic characterizes the indignation -- over what even IT characterized as dramatic over reach by Brewer in her rebuffed effort to remove Colleen Mathis -- as the (IM)moral equivalent of the subterfuge undertaken by opponents of INDEPENDENT redistricting.
The Arizona Republic's management and editorial board must not be allowed to get away with this blatant deception without being called on it.
Make no mistake. The rhetoric responsible for undermining government institutions is coming from the governor and House Speaker. Calling those individuals to account for their statements and conduct is NOT inappropriate by any measure.
More from the Republic's editorial:
Mathis and the two Democratic members of the commission should immediately make it clear that there will be no rush to approve the draft maps, overriding the concerns of the two GOP members.
The commission needs to rework the maps based on public comment. The proposed congressional districts, which enraged Republicans, should be redrawn to eliminate the ugly lobster shape that hooks up Fountain Hills and Colorado River communities.
A decade ago, the first time that the voter-created commission drew district boundaries, the final maps were very different from the draft ones. The commission must be able to find a configuration that has unanimous support, which will help restore public confidence in the process.