Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Redistricting -- Federal court trial schedule

Last night the Associated Press reported that the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission told a federal court that it cannot properly prepare for trial before the proposed March 2013 trial date for the lawsuit challenging the new legislative district maps.

Arizona's redistricting commission is telling a federal court that it'd be too much of a rush to schedule a late March trial on a lawsuit challenging the state's new map of legislative districts.
A three-judge panel had said the case should go to trial by late March so it can be resolved in time to avoid disrupting the 2014 elections.
But the commission says there are critical pretrial issues that first must be resolved, making a June or July trial more realistic.
The case filed on behalf of 11 Republican voters contends that population variances between some districts dilute votes in violation of constitutional protections for equal protection under the law.
Today, I obtained the joint case management plan filed by counsel for both sides along with a proposed Scheduling Order they hope to have Judge Roslyn O. Silver sign.

The case management plan sets forth succinctly (well, 21 pages succinctly anyway) the positions of both the plaintiffs (GOP whiners) and defendants (the AIRC) as well as issues that apparently must be proven in order for plaintiffs to obtain a favorable judgment. It's actually pretty interesting, if you're into legal stuff (and redistricting).
Plaintiff's position:
This action is brought by Plaintiff Arizona qualified electors to challenge the final map of Arizona legislative districts (“Final Legislative Map”) approved by the IRC on or about January 17, 2012, on the grounds that the legislative districts created by the IRC violate the one-person/one-vote requirement of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and violate the equal population requirement of ARIZ. CONST. art 4, pt. 2, § 1(14)(B), by systematically overpopulating Republican plurality districts and systematically under-populating Democrat plurality districts with no lawful state interest justifying such deviations from equality of population among Arizona legislative districts. Plaintiffs further adopts by reference the positions and arguments it made in the briefing of the motion to dismiss the amended complaint.
Defendant's position:
The basic nature of the case was briefed, with legal citations, and argued to the Court in the Commission’s Motion to Dismiss, and reflected in the Court’s ruling on the motion. The Court succinctly states the issue for trial in the first paragraph of its Order, November 16, 2012.

Current issues and defenses in the case are set forth in subsections (3) and (6) below. The Commission contends that the Final Legislative Map neither violates the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, nor the equal population “to the extent practicable” goal in the Arizona Constitution. The Commission meticulously followed the four-step procedure prescribed by the Arizona Constitution, and carefully considered each of the factors set out in the Arizona Constitution. The manner in which the Commission conducted itself is detailed in lengthy transcripts of public hearings, with numerous opportunities for public comment. Judgments that the Commission made with respect to each of these factors--including judgments made as to the Voting Rights Act, policy determinations as to the practicable extent to which each factor could be furthered, and policy considerations as to the creation of competitive districts that would not create a significant detriment to other factors--present political and non-justiciable questions to the federal courts.
Each side also sets forth what it believes it must prove in order to win a favorable judgment.

Plaintiffs believe they must (and can) prove:
Accordingly, Plaintiffs must prove (A) the legislative districts deviate from equality, (B) the adjustments the Arizona Constitution authorized did not cause the deviations from strict equality, (C) deviations from equality are not the incidental result of adjustments made to attain legitimate state interests, and (D) no legitimate State interests justify or warrant the IRC’s deviations from equality.
Plaintiffs [also] must prove (A) it was practicable for Defendants to draw legislative districts with equal population (which is what they did with the Grid Map and with the Congressional Map), and (B) Defendants failed to carry out this duty.
In the first paragraph (above), while it might be a simple thing to prove the legislative districts do not have the same population (pursuant to the 2010 Census), it's an entirely different matter to prove population adjustments were not for purposes allowed by the Arizona Constitution.

In the second paragraph (Plaintiff's second claim for relief), proving whether it was practicable for the AIRC to make all legislative districts of equal population seems even more subjective.

On the other hand, Defendants believe:
Accordingly, to make out an Equal Protection Clause challenge, Plaintiffs must show that the Final Legislative Map was “arbitrary or discriminatory.” To meet that burden, Plaintiffs must show that any deviation is “an arbitrary or discriminatory policy,” and that the asserted “unconstitutional or irrational state policy is the actual reason for the deviation.” 
On the facts alleged in the First Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs must prove that “the Commission systematically overpopulated Republican Districts and under-populated Democratic Districts for the sole purpose of maximizing Democratic strength in the state legislature.” Id. at page 5. Plaintiffs must prove that the “Commission added to some people’s votes and diluted other people’s votes based only on their expected party preference.”
Defendants contend that the Second Claim for Relief is barred from being heard in the federal courts by reason of the Eleventh Amendment.
Defendants contend that the equal population requirement of the Arizona Constitution is coextensive with the requirements of the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause with respect to state legislative maps. Compliance with the Arizona Constitution’s requirement that state legislative districts have “equal population to the extent practicable” is as flexible as the federal constitution and the federal requirements permit.
“[G]oals (A) and (B) either expressly or implicitly mirror the requirements of the United States Constitution or federal statutory law, and compliance with these goals can be decided as a matter of objective law."
To make a claim, Plaintiffs must show that the Commission adopted a final plan that did not comply with substantive constitutional requirements. Id. at 596 ¶ 24, 208 P.3d at 685. As the procedural requirements of the Arizona Constitution were complied with, the issue requires that “the party challenging the redistricting plan demonstrate that no reasonable redistricting commission could have adopted the redistricting plan at issue.” Id. at 600 ¶ 45, 208 P.3d at 689.
Plaintiffs misstate the elements of a claim. “[T]he fact that a ‘better’ plan exists does not establish that this plan lacks a reasonable basis.” Id. at ¶ 46.
To read more and get the entire context, the links are provided (above).

For icing on the cake, the Eastern Arizona Courier yesterday published an op-ed column specifically critical of the Republican plaintiffs in this lawsuit. It begins:
Arizona Republicans raise the cost of government more than they save taxpayers’ money.
The proof to that statement was further evidenced Monday when a federal judge agreed to listen to Republican arguments that the most recent redistricting was unfair. This is a waste of precious federal court resources, paid for with tax dollars that shouldn’t be spent on an argument that has no merit.
Republicans being unfairly treated due to the work of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission in 2011? Republicans losing elections due to district boundaries that were drawn through a process tainted by allegations of conspiracy?
Let’s look at the recent "losses" of a party that still hangs a red flag majority over the State Legislature and state administration.
Quite poignant for a paper whose readers are mostly Arizona Republicans.

But don't expect the plaintiffs (which include former state Rep. Ted Carpenter and the wife of Senate President-elect Andy Biggs(hot)) or plaintiffs counsel (David Cantelme) to be at all concerned with what a community newspaper in rural eastern Arizona says about them.

Frankly, it would surprise me if any political pressure from newspapers or citizens in general would make these Arizona Republicans give way to common sense on this matter.

1 comment:

  1. The Independent Redistricting Commission needs to continue working to protect the maps used for the recent election.

    Thanks to Steve for continuing to monitor what is going on with all these court cases.