Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Friday, November 11, 2011

Redistricting -- Friends of the Court and of Arizona voters -- UPDATED 11-11-11 11:30am MST

Arizona's redistricting spectacle has caught the attention of DC-based non-profit Common Cause, which believes this is a cause that should be of common concern throughout the country.

Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to restoring the core values of American democracy, reinventing an open, honest, and accountable government that works for the public interest, and empowering ordinary people to make their voices heard.
On Tuesday (election day), Common Cause issued the following press release:
Common Cause urged Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer today to reinstate Colleen Mathis as chairwoman of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC).

“Ms. Mathis’ dismissal was a mistake. The allegations of ‘gross misconduct’ levied by Gov. Jan Brewer and affirmed in the state Senate vote to remove her as commission chair are baseless and fueled by partisanship,” said Greg Rabidoux, Common Cause’s director for redistricting.

“There’s a right way and a wrong way to ensure that the independent redistricting commission conducts its business lawfully. Governor Brewer has chosen the wrong way,” Rabidoux said. “Arizona voters sent a clear and strong message in 2006, when they passed Proposition 106 and created the IRC. That message was that the governor and the legislature, regardless of party, must stay out of the redistricting process. Now Governor Brewer and her allies in the Senate have ignored the will of her constituents; their rush to depose Ms. Mathis and hijack the IRC process stems from their dislike of the draft maps the Commission released.”
Common Cause is considering taking legal action in support of an independent IRC. “This is an unjustified and excessive partisan attack, which cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged,” said Kathay Feng, who as executive director of Common Cause California spearheaded the successful drive to create a similar independent redistricting panel in that state.

Rabidoux told the Arizona Eagletarian today that Common Cause has signed on to an amicus brief that will be filed in support of Special Action CV-11-0313 now before the Arizona Supreme Court. This lawsuit asks the Court to reinstate Independent Chair Colleen Mathis. The deadline for filing those briefs is today at 5pm MST. Look for all documents filed in the case to be posted to this blog soon after I receive them.


On Thursday, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission filed, in Maricopa County Superior Court, a reply in support of its motion for summary judgment on Tom Horne's witch hunt. The 18-page document sets forth the arguments why Horne did not have the authority to investigate the AIRC for alleged open meeting violations and that such an investigation violates legislative privilege.


Also on Thursday, Tim Hogan with the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest filed an amicus brief on behalf of Prop 106 drafters Bart Turner, Ann Eschinger and Dennis Michael Burke.

A judicial action on any legislation must consider legislative intent in order to rightly interpret the law. 
Two well-established canons of statutory interpretation:. First, courts must ascertain the intent of the Legislature to effectuate the purpose of the law (DuBois v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (1993) 5 Cal.4th 382, 387); Second, they must adopt an interpretation that avoids an absurd result the Legislature did not intend. (Bruce v. Gregory (1967) 65 Cal.2d 666, 673.)

Prop. 106 was not written by the legislature, but it is legislation nevertheless. The intent of the authors was publicized to the voters before the 2000 general election. The voters adopted the intent by approving the measure overwhelmingly

In this case, the clear intent of the authors was to prevent the kind of abuse demonstrated over the last couple of weeks by Arizona's governor and state senate. The amicus brief lays out that intent in detail, with additional documentation of notes and discussions that had been made prior to finalizing the language that was submitted to the voters.



Common Cause Signs onto Brief in Support of Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission Chair Mathis
In Arizona, Common Cause formally signed onto a brief in support of Colleen Mathis, who was unconstitutionally removed as chair of the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission last week by Gov. Jan Brewer and Republican senate leaders.

“Without a doubt, Ms. Mathis’ removal was unlawful, unjustified and part of a partisan power play by the Governor and the Republican-controlled state senate,” said Greg Rabidoux, Common Cause’s director for redistricting.

Common Cause joins a bipartisan group of four additional Arizonans who have also signed onto the friend-of-the-court brief, which was to be filed by Friday by the law firm Perkins Coie LLP.

Proposition 106, passed 11 years ago by Arizona voters, took state lawmakers and the governor out of the state’s congressional and state and local legislative redistricting process. The initiative created the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AZ IRC), a non-partisan agency, and gave it authority to draw congressional and state and local legislative districts. Common Cause Arizona and grassroots and advocacy allies helped secure passage of this successful reform initiative.

Recently, the independent commission released a draft legislative redistricting map, and Gov. Brewer, in an unprecedented step, removed Mathis as chairwoman, claiming “gross misconduct.” Without hearings or any serious examination of this claim, as well as other allegations, a two-thirds majority in the state Senate, voting 21-6 along party lines, upheld this extreme and baseless removal process.


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