Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Monday, July 22, 2013

Redistricting -- Monday's meeting recap

This morning, pursuant to the meeting notice and agenda posted last week, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission met. Two members of the public attended (I was not one of them). A recording of the meeting will be posted to the AIRC website in a day or two.

The commission made two substantive decisions this morning. First, by a unanimous vote (5-0), it approved an extension of mapping consultant Strategic Telemetry's contract.

Second, after executive session discussion, the AIRC approved, in a motion with no opposition, authorizing legal counsel (Mary O'Grady and Joe Kanefield) to "seek release" of executive session transcripts from June 15, 24 and 29 of 2011 regarding discussions about the mapping consultant contract.

O'Grady told me that because the commission does not want to run afoul of state statutes regarding disclosure of executive sessions, "seek release" in this case means they will ask Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Mark Brain (before whom the Leach v AIRC case will be tried) for permission to disclose those transcripts. She said that even though Lisa Hauser's discovery requests did not specifically include those three transcripts, the AIRC believes they are germane to the issues presented in the Leach complaint.

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Last Friday, counsel for plaintiffs in Harris v AIRC filed its brief in response to Judge Roslyn O. Silver's July 8 order that both parties comment on the ramifications of last month's Supreme Court ruling in Shelby County v Holder, which struck down Voting Rights Act provisions requiring preclearance of Arizona's Congressional and legislative district maps.

The conclusion Harris' counsel comes to is this:
Shelby County cuts the line between Arizona and Section 5, and thereby destroys the IRC’s already insupportable rationale for deliberately underpopulating Democrat-dominated districts and overpopulating Republican-dominated districts. Shelby County applies retroactively, it makes no difference to Plaintiffs’ lone state-law claim, and it does nothing to revive the already-rejected case for abstention. Plaintiffs respectfully request that, upon the conclusion of supplemental briefing, the Court proceed to decision of this case and render judgment for Plaintiffs declaring the IRC’s legislative plan unconstitutional and enjoining its enforcement for the 2014 election.
The bottom line appears to be that Cantelme claims the Supreme Court's Shelby County ruling applies retroactively (meaning the AIRC had no grounds or justification to seek Department of Justice preclearance, even though it was the law of the land at the time the redistricting took place) when AIRC counsel has said and will most assuredly say again that the ruling has NO BEARING on the maps as they are now.

Pursuant to Silver's July 8 order, the AIRC deadline for responding to the Harris brief is August 2nd (Friday of next week).

By the way, over the weekend, the only news coverage of Cantelme's filing appears to have been written up by Howie Fischer of Capitol News Services. Fischer's story was carried in a few newspapers around the state, including Tucson's Arizona Daily Star and Flagstaff's Arizona Daily Sun.

At minimum, that story and the various headlines written apparently by staff for those newspapers has done little to clarify anyone's understanding and much to confuse the issues. Some have reported that on Friday, Arizona Republicans filed suit demanding Congressional district lines be changed for 2014. 

No new lawsuit was filed against the AIRC regarding Congressional or legislative district lines last week. It all boils down to the fact that Cantelme is now -- as opposed to the summer of 2011 -- dropping all pretense of wanting to ensure adequate representation for Arizona's Hispanic voters and clearly advocating only for the GOP being able to maintain its stranglehold over public policy and lawmaking at the Arizona Capitol. 

I'm not sure how boastful I have a right to be, but you can get the clearest information available on our state's 2011 redistricting cycle right here on the Arizona Eagletarian.




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