AP reporter Paul Davenport writes:
Lawyers pressing a Republican-backed lawsuit challenging the new congressional districts told a judge Wednesday that the case should be allowed to proceed because the state's redistricting commission violated important procedural requirements that protect the public by providing transparency and fairness.
"They have to be taken very seriously. They're no less important than the substantive goals," said attorney Lisa Hauser. (emphasis mine)Which raises the question of why Hauser thinks NON substantive issues warrant the massive additional expenditure of taxpayer dollars -- that proceeding with this lawsuit and starting the map drawing process over from scratch -- would entail. Davenport continues:
Commission lawyers want the judge to dismiss the suit. They said it's based on unfounded allegations and attempts to get courts to trample on the commission's constitutional authority to draw congressional and legislative districts.
"The truth is that the plaintiffs don't like the congressional map drawn by the commission and are trying to force the commission to start over," said Joe Kanefield, an attorney for the commission.
The case is one of three lawsuits challenging new districts given final approval by the commission in January following a lengthy and controversial process.
AIRC Counsel Mary O'Grady addressed Hauser's obvious attempts at micromanaging the redistricting process by pointing out that every commission meeting and hearing was recorded, audio and video, and that extensive records of the proceedings are easily available for public review (posted on the AIRC website).
The hearing this afternoon lasted about two hours and wrapped up with Judge Brain taking the matter under advisement with no time frame given to expect his ruling.
The Arizona Auditor General is still working on its audit of the AIRC even though it had previously led the commission to expect a draft of its final report before the end of July. At some point, there likely will be a public hearing in the legislature on the (eventual, final) report. Normally, those hearings are matter of fact presentations by auditors without much hoopla or fanfare.
However, given the contentious nature of the redistricting process over the last year and a half, and that the GOP supermajority expects to suffer significant loss of strength in the upcoming general election, its reasonable to expect them to make this one a dog and pony show to stir up their Tea Party base sometime in late September or October.