Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Redistricting -- SCOTUS gutted the Voting Rights Act UPDATED 4:00pm 6-25-13

Ultimately, the ruling handed down today by the Supreme Court of the United States -- in a 5-4 decision with the majority opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts -- took the wind completely out of the sails for advocates of federal enforcement of Section 5. For Arizona this means, for the time being, that the expected ruling in Harris v Arizona Independent Redistrict Commission will likely require some changes be made to the legislative district map.

I expect more information to unfold over the next several days, with the AIRC issuing at least an informal statement hopefully this afternoon.

In the meantime, the 68-page ruling will be dissected by legal analysts and advocates for equal voting rights throughout the country. The bottom line appears to be that Section 4, the basis for determining who is subject to the Section 5 preclearance process, has been declared unconstitutional.


No formal statement will be forthcoming from the AIRC regarding today's ruling by the Supreme Court. However, the best information I've been able to dig up thus far indicates that the ruling should NOT have any bearing any potential outcome of the Harris case.

Recall that the Harris trial wrapped at the end of March. Because today's SCOTUS ruling does not change what was in effect when the current Arizona legislative district map was drawn, the three-judge panel hearing that case should make its determination based on law as it was prior to today.

However, IF the district court orders any changes to the map anyway, those changes would need to consider the law as it is NOW. That is, unless Congress moves quickly to replace the stricken Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. Knowing how difficult it is to get Congress to move quickly on anything, odds are they will not get that done anytime soon.

Another possibility is that if the legislative map will be redrawn as a result of litigation, the new map could end up having a more competitive balance than is currently the case.

In the meantime, expect (Arizona) House Minority Leader Chad Campbell to make a selection later this week, or early next week, to fill the vacant seat on the AIRC.  

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