Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Redistricting -- why I think AIRC lawsuit loss is longshot

In the final PRE-trial order issued by the three-judge panel, a number of things are worth reflecting on now that the trial over and done.

First, let's consider what the plaintiffs had to prove in order to prevail. Plaintiffs' bottom line concern and the crux of the issue before the court:
This is an action brought by Plaintiffs for alleged dilution of their votes by unjustified population deviations in legislative districting for the sole purpose of partisanship, in violation of the one-person/one vote principle of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.... (emphasis added)
I believe plaintiffs failed to prove the essence of this concern.
Each of the current plaintiffs resides within a district the population of which exceeds the ideal population of an Arizona legislative district of 213,067. Plaintiffs are registered Republicans. The legislative districts in which they reside are as follows: Wesley W. Harris, District 20; LaMont E. Andrews, District 17; Cynthia L. Biggs, District 12; Lynne F. Breyer, District 23; Beth K. Hallgren, District 16; James C. Hallgren, District 16; Lina Hatch, District 17; Terry L. Hill, District 6; Joyce M. Hill, District 6; Karen M. MacKean, District 6; and Sherese L. Steffens, District 11
Let's see to what extent these voters' votes were diluted.
LD20 (Wes Harris) is now represented by Republicans Carl Seel and Paul Boyer in the House; and Republican Kimberly Yee in the Senate.

LD 17 (LaMont Andrews and Lina Hatch) is represented by Tom Forese and JD Mesnard in the House; Steve Yarbrough in the Senate, all Republicans.

LD12 (Cynthia Biggs) is represented by Eddie Farnsworth and Warren Petersen in the House; her HUSBAND Andy Biggs in the Senate, all Republicans.

LD23 (Lynne Breyer) is represented by Michele Ugenti and John Kavanagh in the House; Michele Reagan in the Senate, all Republicans.

LD16 (Beth and James Hallgren) is represented by Doug Coleman and that powerhouse of mental acuity, Kelly Townsend in the House; Rich Crandall in the Senate, all Republicans.

LD 6 (Terry and Joyce Hill and Karen MacKean) are represented by Brenda Barton and Bob Thorpe in the House; Tea Potter Chester Crandell in the Senate, all Republicans.

LD11 (Sherese Steffens) is represented by Tea Potters Steve Smith and Adam Kwasman in the House; Captain Al Melvin in the Senate, all Republicans.

You would THINK these people would be happy they were able to elect candidates of their choice. But NO, they won't be satisfied until they have a say in who EVERYBODY elects and then making sure there are TOO FEW Democrats to have an influence on state lawmaking and public policy.

THAT is the bottom line in this case. Cantelme's written pleadings and questioning of witnesses focused on the partisan advantage that was (allegedly) intentionally built into the legislative district map. The irony not only is seeping out between the cracks but is freely flowing like a fountain through the gaping holes in Cantelme's case.

Namely, irony that Cantelme's brazen bullying for the last two years to get the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission to ensure full and aggressive compliance with the Voting Rights Act, especially Section 5. And irony the first AIRC effectively diluted the voice of minority voters in the state legislature by making VRA districts so safe that Democratic voters could not have a voice in election of adjacent districts (regardless of the population deviation) -- such that the 50th Arizona Legislature developed a Republican supermajority. That supermajority resulted in numerous radical right-wing bills passing and becoming law.

By the way, I live in a legislative district that has a population deviation which, according to Cantelme, diluted my vote. LD26 has a higher population than the ideal. He has emphasized that LD26 is one of a handful about which he is most upset. You see, I was among those who successfully elected candidates of OUR choice. They are all three Democrats, one of whom is Hispanic. But Cantelme won't be happy until he wipes out OUR ability to elect the candidate of OUR choice.

In the 50th Legislature (2011-2012) Arizonans elected 19 Democrats to the House of Representatives (out of 60 seats) and 9 Democrats to the Senate (out of 30 seats). In the current Legislature, Democrats hold 24 seats in the House and 13 seats in the Senate. Republicans STILL choose who chairs committees and which bills get heard. So, the net effect of the alleged vote dilution is that Republicans have to conduct themselves with just a tad more decorum and a smidgen less hubris in promoting their radical right-wing agenda.

Back to the final pretrial order:
The following are disputed questions of fact to be tried:
1. Whether the IRC’s sole reason for the population deviation was partisan advantage and other asserted reasons were pretextual or not in good faith. Subsumed in this:
a. Whether the IRC had actual partisan bias.
b.  Whether the IRC gave Voting Rights Act districts population deviations to improve the minority ability to elect candidates of choice or strengthen other Voting Rights Act districts.
c. Whether the IRC adopted the population deviation to comply with the Voting Rights Act § 5.
d. Whether the IRC adopted the population deviation for any other legitimate state purpose.
2. Whether the IRC made a good faith attempt to minimize population deviation.
3. Whether Districts 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 19, 24, 26, 27, 29, and 30 are or may be properly considered a majority-minority, coalition, or cross-over district, or none of the foregoing, when determining whether the IRC plan retrogressed or could be counted toward satisfaction of the Voting Rights Act § 5.
I firmly believe that plaintiffs failed to make their case on any of these questions of fact.

The following questions of law may be decided:
1. Whether the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits deviation from equal population in legislative districts done only for partisan purposes.
2. Whether the Voting Rights Act § 5 requires or authorizes population deviation in legislative districts to comply with the Act.
3. If the Voting Rights Act § 5 does not require or authorize population deviation in legislative districts to comply with the Act:
a. Whether Arizona Constitution, art 4, pt. 2, § 1(14) limits the policy goals for which the IRC could make adjustments to detriment of equality of population to the five other criteria stated therein.
b. Whether a good faith but mistaken attempt to comply with the Voting Rights Act is a legitimate state interest justifying population deviations, even if it results in partisan advantage.
c. Whether population deviation to benefit protected minorities that is not authorized by the Voting Rights Act § 5 is racial discrimination prohibited by the equal protection clause.
d. Whether strict scrutiny applies to such population deviation.
4. Whether the Eleventh Amendment bars reliance on or resolution of state law necessary to deciding the federal claims.
5. Whether relief may include instructions to avoid violation of the equal protection clause in a revised plan and court adoption of a constitutional legislative plan in time for the 2014 election, if the IRC cannot do so.
6. If Plaintiffs prevail, whether they are entitled to an award of costs and attorneys’ fees against the IRC pursuant to the 42 U.S.C. § 1988.
I cannot say on which of these questions the court will or will not rule. But these questions of law are those which have and will cause all three judges to give very thoughtful consideration to the outcome they ultimately impose on the citizens of Arizona.

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Actually, the one public policy issue on which the decreased Republican control of the legislature matters most on is the implementation of the federal government's Medicaid Expansion pursuant to the Affordable Care Act. As things stand right now, since there are too few Republicans to override a veto of any bill, Gov. Brewer (who wants to see the Medicaid expansion enacted in Arizona) holds substantial leverage in bargaining with lawmakers. The 2011-2012 legislature would have likely completely ignored Brewer's demand on this issue.

So, I have to believe, based on this macro level look at the lawsuit, the trial and the ramifications, that nixing the current map is a longshot.











Friday, March 29, 2013

Redistricting -- Trial completed -- UPDATED 2:05pm MST 3-30-13

Final arguments wrapped up this afternoon in Harris (et. al.) v Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.

I only made it in time for the last twenty minutes (or so it seemed), well after all of the AIRC commissioners had finished giving testimony, after presentation of closing arguments and during the last bit of questions posed to each side from Judges Wake and Clifton. Judge Silver did not attend this afternoon's proceedings because she was scheduled to swear in another federal judge this afternoon.

The tone of questions from the two judges could be used -- I believe improperly so -- to guess how they were inclined to rule. Of course, some of that kind of prognostication occasionally takes place with corporate media after oral arguments before the Supreme Court of the United States in high profile cases. Further reading in Law School Undercover sheds light on why, in most cases, this is not a reasonable way to predict the ultimate outcome.

Professor "X" describes strategies for success on law school exams by spelling out how exam questions are developed and different ways students prepare for and answer those questions when the time comes. From pages 103 - 106:
As one might expect, the most common question law professors get from students is how to prepare for the examination. What they really want to know, of course, is what will be the questions on the exam, but those we can't share....
Short of this, students want to know what they can do now, a week or two prior to the exam. They want to know if they should review purchased outlines, drill themselves with the help of memorization flash cards, review computerized multiple choice questions, or do something else... Their notes most likely consist of mere recitals of facts and information: they have duly recorded the class information, but have not processed it, at least not in the dynamic, active way [Professor "X"] described [previously in his book]... They probably have an outline, but it is not an outline that was created to help them see the doctrinal structure of the class or further their understanding of the connections of the course....
To earn a superior grade, the student must know what to do with all that information. The exam questions will not demand an information download. Instead, they will ask the student to put the course materials together in a way never discussed in the classroom. They will demand that students make connections between cases and doctrines, and use those connections to fashion arguments to achieve desired ends.
To prepare for this kind of exam, the student needs to begin making the needed connections as soon as possible. In other words, the student needs to know what's on the exam and what the answers will be before even setting foot in the exam room.
The best law students are the best because they know the exam questions ahead of time. That's right! They study and rehearse answers to the exact issues the exam will present to them.
They don't cheat; they anticipate....
Obviously, no student could possibly anticipate the details of this long, fictional narrative [that the author of the exam questions sets before the student]. Yet, the narrative is not the question; indeed, the narrative is designed to obscure the real questions by cloaking them in a convoluted, confusing set of circumstances, some of which are entirely irrelevant. It is the student's job -- the easy part of the student's job -- to dispel this confusion and to reshape the morass of facts and circumstances into tidy legal questions that are amenable to a logical, legal analysis. In other words, the narrative is not the question; the real question starts once the narrative is stripped to its meaningful, relevant elements.
This description also exquisitely described the entire trial. Quite a bit of what plaintiffs' counsel filed in briefs and presented with witnesses was likely completely unrelated to the bottom line legal issues and questions the three-judge panel will thoughtfully consider and rule upon in due course. In contrast, the questions each judge posed was a signal -- not necessarily as to how they will ultimately rule -- instead, letting parties and observers know what they believe are the issues on which they have to ruminate and ponder.

Judge Wake cited a book, Whose Votes Count? by Abigail Thernstrom, that he believes gets at the essence of the Voting Rights Act. Amazon.com describes the book:
The Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees that all citizens have the right to vote without regard to their "race, color, or previous condition of servitude." For almost a century the Fifteenth Amendment was a dead letter. Throughout the South millions of nonwhite Americans were excluded from the political process by poll taxes, literacy tests, and other devices. The landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 sought to end that injustice. 
In this absorbing book, political scientist Abigail Thernstrom analyzes the radical transformation of the Voting Rights Act in the years since its passage. She shows how a measure carefully crafted to open the polling booths to southern blacks has evolved into a powerful tool for affirmative action in the electoral sphere--a means to promote black and Hispanic officeholding by creating "safe" seats for minority candidates. What began as an effort to give minorities a fair shake has become a means of ensuring a fair share.
Thernstrom demonstrates how voting rights have created a "political thicket" in which Congress, the courts, and the justice Department have been lost. Why this should be true, how small statutory changes led to large and unexpected results, how civil rights groups prevailed against a conservative Senate, how Republicans have benefited from gerrymandering to increase black officeholding--these stories are all part of Thernstrom's well-told tale.
Even though the concept of the right to vote retains an aura of moral simplicity, the issue of minority voting rights is perhaps the most complex, yet least studied, of all affirmative action issues. Whose Votes Count? should stimulate the overdue discussion that the subject deserves among all those concerned with American politics. (emphasis added) 
That Wake would bring this book into the case illustrates the complexity -- which is no doubt why the court decided that the case should be tried -- even though certain issues are blatantly obvious. No careful observer can deny that Republican Arizona voters claiming discrimination by way of vote dilution is patently absurd. And law and precedent established by prior litigation has been quite clear that population deviations of plus or minus 5 percent in state legislative redistricting is presumed to comply with the US Constitution provision for One Person/One Vote. But that presumption is subject to rebuttal and that is the case David Cantelme has set up for two years and presented over the last week.

This afternoon, the judges noted that they consider the partisan advantage alleged by plaintiffs to be real, secondary and possibly incidental even if not unlawfully intentional. So what they will ultimately say is whether the provisions Arizona voters codified into the state constitution with the passage of Prop 106 in 2000 is a lawful state interest.

To clarify the legal question further, the judges noted that the first of the criteria the AIRC must meet is to comply with the US Constitution and the Voting Rights Act.  That criteria is NOT qualified by "to the extent practicable." So, bottom line, the court will declare whether the AIRC complied with the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act.

The ruling will take some time to develop. Both parties will file closing briefs not later than close of business on April 9th 8th. I look forward to posting those briefs for you, hopefully on the evening of April 9th 8th.

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UPDATE

The only thing, I believe, that the judges were telegraphing to the attorneys arguing the case for each side -- with their questions -- was what to include in the closing brief.

Clearly, the stakes are incredibly high no matter which side wins. Politically, it seems quite obvious that if plaintiffs win, we face the prospect of more GOP supermajorities as early as January 2015. Not to mention that such a scenario means the AIRC will have to begin the process all over again. How many more millions of dollars will the legislature have to authorize spending to rehash all of the vitriol, the series of public hearings all over the state again?

Judge Wake wondered aloud this afternoon why the AIRC didn't just tell the Department of Justice to stuff it, so to speak, and demand preclearance on legislative districts based on exactly identical population. One could (if inclined to try to guess the outcome based on that question) read it as Wake being inclined to rule in favor of the plaintiffs.

The major difference in the process here, contrasted with oral arguments before the Supreme Court of the United States, is that here the attorneys get to file the closing briefs subsequent to the oral argument. So, it makes much more sense that Wake was suggesting that he wanted both sides to address that question in their final written documents.

The fact of the matter is that based on Arizona's history, specifically the most recent prior redistricting, is that the Steve Lynn chaired (with Lisa Hauser as lead counsel) AIRC tried to get DOJ to do that very thing. I don't know off the top of my head what the legislative district population deviations were, but I do know that DOJ very emphatically balked at approving the LD map the first time because they found the AIRC intended to retrogress.

Further, Judge Wake also mentioned the 2003 Georgia v Ashcroft case which he said was "a game changer" that was intended to make it easier to obtain DOJ preclearance. So, he clearly was looking for counsel to answer his questions on how that case relates to the AIRC map. From the wikipedia page on the 2003 Supreme Court ruling:
The [Supreme] Court held, however, that the district court failed to consider all the factors relevant to § 5 preclearance when it examined whether the 2001 state-senate redistricting plan resulted in a retrogression of black voters' effective exercise of the electoral franchise.
Judge Clifton wondered (aloud) if the AIRC map would have been acceptable if it had been drawn by a partisan legislature, since legislatures make no pretext about seeking partisan advantage. As one would expect, Cantelme claimed it would still be overly problematic. Of course, if it was a Democratic legislative majority drawing this map, Cantelme would still litigate it. But Clifton's question suggests something AIRC counsel should consider addressing in the final brief.

I still have to think nullifying the current LD map is a longshot. But I don't base that opinion on any reading of the judges in this case.

What I do get by reading the judges is that they don't want to have their judicial legacy tainted by history recording that THEY failed to properly consider all the factors relevant to the claim that voting power of Republicans was diluted by the independent redistricting process. That, in my opinion, is the bottom line.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Redistricting -- Day Three Recap

For most of the day, Republican National Committee redistricting shill Thomas Hofeller spent the day sparring with AIRC counsel Colin Campbell. Hofeller, (who didn't seem to mind nearly as much as opposing counsel David Cantelme when Campbell mispronounced Hofeller's name) had begun his testimony on trial day two in an effort to discredit the legislative district map used in the 2012 election. From The Atlantic story linked above:
Every 10 years, after U.S. census workers have fanned out across the nation, a snowy-haired gentleman by the name of Tom Hofeller takes up anew his quest to destroy Democrats. He packs his bag and his laptop with its special Maptitude software, kisses his wife of 46 years, pats his West Highland white terrier, Kara, and departs his home in Alexandria, Virginia, for a United States that he will help carve into a jigsaw of disunity.
Campbell, for much of the day, repeated the rapid fire style of cross examination he started on Rick Stertz on Monday -- for the purpose of impeaching Hofeller's testimony. For his part, Hofeller (the RNC counterpart to the Arizona Legislature's John Mills) was incredibly evasive and generally unwilling to answer questions with a simple yes or no.

Hofeller is a soft-spoken nerdy type but the lede in The Atlantic story REALLY characterizes the work that he does incredibly well.
Who’s most to blame for our divisive politics? How about the gerrymanderers quietly deciding where your vote goes. Inside the dark art and modern science of making democracy a lot less democratic. (emphasis added)
And Hofeller is just as earnest and sincere sounding as Arizona's practitioner of the dark art of Republican redistricting bullshitting , David Cantelme.

Is that a little harsh? Maybe. Maybe not. For both of them.

Well, some specifics from Hofeller and Cantelme may give you a good idea of what the day looked like. Hofeller said that if the AIRC had followed redistricting criteria in the Arizona Constitution, they could NOT have gotten the map they ended up producing. And he sounded SOOOO sincere. And expert witness nerdy.

But before Campbell was able to begin the cross examination, Judge Silver asked Hofeller how the Department of Justice could have given preclearance when they did. Just the fact that she asked the question was a reasonable indication that all the ensuing effort Campbell put into impeaching the GOP witness's testimony may not have even been necessary. Figuratively speaking, of course, because it would have been irresponsible to have not taken the time to point out the huge holes in this guy's report, testimony and background.

First things first. Hofeller had been paid NO fee of any kind by any of the named plaintiffs in this federal court lawsuit.

Instead, Hofeller is paid $16,000/month plus expenses by the RNC for his consulting work. Which means the RNC is apparently footing the bill for his office space in the RNC HQ too. Pretty good work if you can get it... I suppose.

According to his testimony, Hofeller meets with RNC chief counsel every week and does some of the work on this lawsuit in his RNC office. He knows and conferred with John Mills during the course of the Independent Redistricting process.


Mr. Hofeller did NOT review the racially polarized voting analyses or AIRC transcripts or any other AIRC analyses. Yet, his alleged expert opinion is that the AIRC legislative district map could not possibly be considered to be in compliance with criteria spelled out in Arizona Constitution Article 4, Part 2, Section 1 (14).

In impeaching the testimony of the GOP expert, Campbell got Hofeller to admit that work he did to defend maps drawn by North Carolina's GOP legislative majority was because they wanted to maintain majority control in that state's lawmaking. Campbell cited Hofeller's work for GOP in Tennessee and Missouri also. Before he finished, Campbell was able to get the slippery GOP operative to say that he believed Rick Stertz had acted (in his capacity as an IRC commissioner) to "intentionally create districts of invidious discriminatory purpose by gerrymandering on the basis of partisanship and ethnicity."

On redirect examination, Cantelme tried to get dramatic by claiming that all of Campbell's questioning was nothing but straw man fallacy. But Campbell was actually showing legitimate parallels between and contradictions in the work Hofeller had done for North Carolina, Tennessee and Missouri as compared with his completely RNC funded work in this lawsuit. Cantelme seemed to take particular relish in his rhetorical call to "knock them down now and forever." Presumably knocking down what he wanted the judges to believe were straw men. Setting up his rhetoric, Cantelme said that both he and Campbell had been through Catholic schools and learned all about logic. Judge Wake, however, before Cantelme could get into it further, pointed out that before deciding on a career in law, he had spent six years studying for the Catholic priesthood. So Cantelme clearly didn't impress Wake with that stunt.

In what seemed like too fine a point, Cantelme and Hofeller a couple of times today tried to emphasize that Plan X was not intended to be a recommended alternative for the adopted and DOJ precleared legislative district map. It seemed like quite a lot of work to go to just to try to hoodwink three federal judges into scrapping two years of work by the AIRC.

Commissioner Linda McNulty did a fine job of answering questions from Cantelme, Mary O'Grady (who conducted the cross examination) and each of the judges. She recalled a great deal of detail from AIRC meetings and deliberations and provided meaningful background for the judges.

A highlight for me, in McNulty's cross examination, was O'Grady's questions (and Linda's answers) establishing that competitiveness was a legitimate consideration in making changes that ended up in the final map, and that it is a legitimate state consideration.

Today, the trial was still quite intriguing for me but the unpadded wooden bench seats in the gallery were getting uncomfortable by the end of the day.


Tomorrow, Commissioner Scott Freeman is expected to begin the day's testimony, followed by UC Berkeley Professor Bruce Cain. I understand that Cain, who attended today's proceedings, will defend the racially polarized voting analysis prepared by Harvard Prof. Gary King as a part of the development of the adopted AIRC maps.

On Friday, AIRC chair Colleen Mathis will testify and both sides will present closing arguments, followed by a couple of hours of questioning from the judges. Apparently, the judges want to finish the six day trial in five days.

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I didn't think any corporate media besides the Arizona Capitol Times had attended the trial today, but an AP story on Bloomberg.com popped up in a Google Alert and it had details that one had to watch or listen in order to know.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Redistricting -- Recap of Trial Day One

Disclaimers first: I'm not a betting man and I'm not a lawyer. Therefore, I do not have experience on which to prognosticate with any degree of certainty on what the ultimate outcome will be in the federal court redistricting trial. Wes Harris and his merry band of misfits (fellow plaintiffs) hope to get the three-judge panel to declare the map used for the 2012 election for members of the Arizona Senate and House of Representatives unconstitutional.

What I can say is that the Associated Press reported today (along with a general story about what took place) that:

The plaintiffs allege that Dennis “D.J.” Quinlan, at the time the election director of the Democratic Party in Arizona, exchanged map files and e-mails with the two Democratic members of the commission, Linda McNulty and Jose Herrera, that showed they were looking at where incumbent legislators lived in particular districts.
Quinlan, who is scheduled to testify at the trial, also received from McNulty login information for the computer system of the mapping consultant the commission used. McNulty provided the consultant with a thumb drive that contained significant change to two districts, the Republican plaintiffs said.
The commission said Quinlan’s involvement with redistricting has been publicly known and that, even if Quinlan was involved in preparing possible changes on the thumb drive, no changes were made to the map unless it was considered by the commission, according to a March 12 court filing. (emphasis added)
After all the other journalists had left for the day (deadlines, I suppose), the court heard a plaintiffs' (Harris and friends) motion for sanctions against AIRC counsel. A Cantelme associate attorney named Samuel Sacks argued that Quinlan MUST have been up to no good when he logged into a Strategic Telemetry computer in November 2011. Sacks' claim was all innuendo and inference of wrongdoing based on just released (Saturday, March 23) phone and computer records for Quinlan as well as phone records related to Commissioners Linda McNulty and Jose Herrera.

The bottom line, however, is that the motion for sanctions was denied outright, with Judges Silver and Wake (and maybe also Clifton) expressing an indignant "SO WHAT" (their words). None of them believed that any nefarious consideration of incumbent lawmakers' addresses took place.

This also leads me to speculate about the reason an AIRC request to compel John Mills to testify (because he is known to have done at least as much as plaintiffs allege Quinlan did) had been denied. The judges apparently did not see any relevance to Mills potential testimony and based on what they heard today from Sacks, they seem to think Quinlan's testimony will not add much to the proceedings.

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First thing this morning, David Cantelme presented his opening argument. In that argument no new ground was broken and all of what he alleged has been reported on this blog ad nauseum already. The bottom line is that Cantelme has spent the better part of the last two years focused on setting up this lawsuit. If you've been following, you already know what I mean by setting it up.

He has testified on the record. He has written letters to the commission. He has engaged in one-on-one schmoozing (others, including some who are or may be related to members or staff of the AIRC). And he has resorted to lame attempts to intimidate (me). All of it came to a head today when he spent more than four hours litigating. In addition to opening argument, he questioned Commissioner Rick Stertz, the first commissioner to take the stand.

I took some notes about points I think were salient, but will get into more detail about those when I write again (probably) tomorrow. I don't plan to attend the trial tomorrow. Cantelme indicated early on today that he had intended to examine Stertz as well as the plaintiffs' expert witness before the end of the day. He didn't get that far. I should also mention that this afternoon Cantelme appeared to not be able to get his witness (Stertz) to answer questions you would think he would have discussed with Stertz in preparing for trial. To me, this signaled a substantive disconnect on Cantelme's part.

Cantelme (also in his opening argument) said he had heard rumors that his case was collapsing already and that he wanted to assure the judges that is not the case. I have to wonder, though, if he has to say that (or even has time to say that) in his opening argument, how strong can his case really be?

If you follow the Arizona Eagletarian on twitter, you may have seen that I mentioned Cantelme's snail's pace this afternoon. He finally did wrap up his questioning of Stertz but that only left time for defendants' counsel to cross examine the witness.

Again, a disclaimer -- I cannot tell what is going on inside the heads of the three judges. But my observation of the contrast between Cantelme's performance and the cross examination conducted by former Maricopa County Presiding Superior Court Judge Colin Campbell can best be characterized by saying that Cantelme got his ass handed to him on a platter.

To say that Campbell was... well, I should contain my enthusiasm because the trial is less than twenty percent complete.

Cantelme, in opening this morning, did say that he plans to call Willie Desmond, the chief mapmaker for Strategic Telemetry's engagement in this redistricting as well as current interim executive director of the Arizona Democratic Party, DJ Quinlan and Commissioner Herrera to testify tomorrow. I have to wonder how far he'll get since he hasn't even started questioning his expert witness yet.

My overall impression today, despite the still early stage of the trial, is that if GOP leadership in the Arizona Legislature want to grouse about how much money they have to spend on attorney fees for the AIRC, they would do well to focus their consternation on David Cantelme. Because unless something happens to change the course, he's going to be the fall guy in a major way.

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Many of my friends already know that I'm thinking in terms of trying to get into law school. I don't know if I'll make it, but I will try. There are a number of obstacles that must be overcome, including taking the Law School Admission Test and figuring out how I could pay for a law school education. In preparation, I'm reading. Actually mostly reading, other than when I write. Cutting down on television and reading some more.

An intriguing book providing lots of insight, Law School Undercover by Professor "X," describes the life and career (among other things) of lawyers.
In the real world of the lawyer, a typical billable hour will be spent researching the law -- involving an extremely close reading of statutes and judicial opinions -- to discern applicable legal standards while simultaneously trying to re-characterize, usually in writing, a client's past or intended conduct to fit within the boundaries of those legal standards. That's it. Reading and thinking and writing and fact-checking and proofreading and still more proofreading  -- that's the lawyer's work life. Day in and day out, for usually far more than a "normal" 40-hour workweek. No "argument," no shouting, no drama, no tears or dramatically revealing the real killer. Now do you still want to be a lawyer?
Well, I don't know if I have the energy or the stamina. But I do know that the idea intrigues me tremendously. But that paragraph also puts a good bit of what I observed today in perspective. Nobody was yelling today. In fact, former Judge Campbell was incredibly soft spoken. Well, actually so was Cantelme. They both had to be chided by Judge Silver several times to speak up and more directly into the microphone.

But there were so many more attorneys present today than just Campbell and Cantelme. All of whom that did not directly address the court did pay extremely close attention for the purpose of recognizing any issue or statement that might have any bearing on their respective clients.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Redistricting -- Trial preview

At 8:30 am, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission's trial will begin.

As I have indicated previously, I intend to attend the first day of the trial (Monday) and to live tweet for as long as the battery on my phone holds out.

At this time, I understand that over the course of the (expected) six day bench trial (no jury), each of the five commissioners will be called to testify.

An addition has been made to the legal team representing the AIRC. I expect former Maricopa County Superior Court Presiding Judge Colin Campbell, a partner in the law firm Osborne Maledon, to present the opening argument for the AIRC.

The outcome of this trial will boil down to whether David Cantelme is able to convince the three-judge federal court panel that there was an unlawful conspiracy to violate the Constitutional rights of Republican voters during the development of the legislative district maps approved by the AIRC more than a year ago.

Of course, I'm not an attorney (though someday I might become one) but besides the fact that the law is on the side of the IRC, conceptually it is up to the plaintiffs in the case (represented principally by Cantelme) to rebut the presumption that the variances in registered voters in the districts -- at the time of approval, certain Republican leaning districts had more voters than districts constructed to comply with the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Because those variances did not exceed ten percent, the legal presumption is that there was no violation of the principle of One Man (person, or voter)/One Vote.

The exquisite irony of the situation is in the fact that it was -- in fact -- David Cantelme who vociferously advocated (both on-the-record during testimony before the AIRC) and other times for zealously protecting the voting rights of ethnic and language minority voters. He goaded the AIRC to do the very thing he has succeeded in getting people to pay him to sue the commission for doing. From my post on July 26, 2011:
After expressing his outrage that I swore at him by calling his client unFair Trust, he began an aggressive verbal attack aiming to get me to engage on his terms. He repeated his attack, rapid fire, for what seemed like a couple of dozen times. I never took the bait. But I did repeat, as many times as he attacked, that I refused to engage on his terms and would not take his bait.
What was he trying to get me to do or say?
He asked repeatedly if I was against allowing Latino voters to be protected by the Voting Rights Act. When I refused to answer his question he alternately said it was because: I was afraid; or I did not want Latinos to be protected by the Voting Rights Act.
If that wasn't all about goading... anyway, now finally comes the AIRC's day in court.




Friday, March 22, 2013

On Deck -- Harris et al v Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission

Bright and early Monday morning attorneys square off in the high-stakes battle before a three-judge panel in federal court over Arizona's legislative district maps.

After months of motions, pleadings, counter pleadings and depositions (not to mention spending gobs of money on lawyers), opening arguments are scheduled for 8:30 am at the Sandra Day O'Connor Federal Courthouse in Phoenix. Each side will have, if I understand it correctly, one-half hour to start what is scheduled to be a six day trial.

I plan to attend the first day and intend to live tweet ( @AzEagletarian ).

By the way, there is no indication that having swarms of people attend the trial to support the IRC will be productive. So, attend if you're interested, but not to cause any kind of a ruckus.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Just HOW crAZy is the AZ House?

We're all familiar with the fact that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is controversial.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has taken a bold stand, against the hardliners in her own party, to push for our state to implement the ACA provision for expanding Medicaid.
Arizona*: Gov. Jan Brewer (R) in her 2013 State of the State speech, delivered on Jan. 14, announced that Arizona will participate in the Medicaid expansion, which would extend health care services to an estimated 300,000 more state residents. Brewer noted that the expansion plan will "include a circuit-breaker that automatically" would reduce enrollment if federal reimbursement rates decrease. Brewer was expected to offer further details of the plan in her budget proposal, which is subject to approval by the Republican-controlled Legislature (Christie, AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/14; Sanders/Wingett Sanchez, Arizona Republic, 1/14; Fischer, Sierra Vista Herald, 1/14; Safier, Tucson Citizen [Blog for Arizona], 1/14). 
Additionally, the Arizona Senate is currently considering HB2550 which amends Arizona Revised Statutes Title 20, regarding insurance regulation.

The ONLY news story on HB2550 this year, dated February 25 says, in part:

With Arizona declining to establish a health insurance exchange under the federal Affordable Care Act, a lawmaker wants to make sure the state maintains its oversight of insurers and policies.
“What we’re trying to do is to codify authority for Arizona to be able to make the best of a worse situation,” said Rep. Heather Carter, R-Cave Creek, author of HB 2550.
The proposed legislation addresses areas of flexibility offered to states under the Affordable Care Act. Those include regulating the health insurance industry and setting areas within which insurers will establish rates for individual and small-group policies.

HB2550 already passed in the House. But not without some sparks flying -- completely and intentionally under the radar of any news media -- within the GOP caucus in the House.

On February 25, a House member (it doesn't say which one) objected to putting HB2550 on a consent calendar.
House Rules [Rule 11 B.] provide for the use of a Consent Calendar to bypass Committee of the Whole and move unamended bills to Third Reading in order to expedite the legislative process. Members may protest any bill being so advanced by submitting the protest in writing to the Chief Clerk (with a copy to the Speaker’s office) during the 3-day posting period.  Any protest will automatically remove the bill from the Consent Calendar.  All remaining bills are available for placement on a Third Reading Calendar.
The purpose of the Committee of the Whole is for all House members to have the opportunity to debate the bill. Prior to COW, the only official debate on THIS bill was in the standing committees. In this case, the House Health Committee and the House Insurance and Retirement Committee.

Carl Seel is not a member of either the House Health or House Insurance and Retirement Committee. Carl Seel, by the way, is the Arizona Legislature's Chief Birther.

The news story cited above also says:
Carter’s is one of three bills proposing Arizona responses to the federal plan. Legislation by Rep. Carl Seel, R-Phoenix, to prohibit a state health exchange and a bill by Rep. Eric Meyer, D-Scottsdale, to create a state exchange didn’t receive committee hearings. (emphasis added)
Scuttlebutt at the Capitol on March 6 -- the day HB2550 was heard in Committee of the Whole -- was that Carl Seel intended to introduce a floor amendment to HB2550.

There is a normal protocol for proposing floor amendments. Generally, they are submitted by a certain deadline and accompanied by a floor amendment summary explanation. Staff of both caucuses then brief the members before COW on what floor amendments to expect. This deadline and process is not a specifically spelled out rule but more of a gentlemen's agreement.

It seems Seel thought he found a loophole in this unwritten rule/procedure. It also looks like he was dissatisfied that his bill, HB2001 (to prohibit a state health exchange) did not get a hearing in any committee. Apparently, Mr. Birther thought he was going to pull one over on his caucus leadership by attaching the language in his bill to HB2550. Here is the proposed amendment language (which just so happens to be identical to HB2001):


Title 20, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended by adding chapter 23, to read:
CHAPTER 23
HEALTH CARE EXCHANGE
ARTICLE 1.  GENERAL PROVISIONS
20-3250.  State-based health care exchange; prohibition
This state may not establish or administer a state‑based health care exchange.


Some House Republicans undoubtedly support Seel's idea, but perhaps they didn't want to potentially kill the bill he was trying to amend. The news story lede (cited above) also implies that Seel's proposal was at cross purposes to HB2550 anyway.

Here's how it went down in Committee of the Whole:


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Note that in the upper left corner of the video, it appears to have an April 6, 2013 date. This actually took place on MARCH 6, 2013.

And even though this event, two full weeks ago now, garnered NO news coverage whatsoever, it was very obviously a public smackdown by House GOP leadership of the infamous Mr. Seel.

Immediately upon Rep. Carter making the motion to consider HB2550 -- which is normally the signal for debate to begin on the bill and for a member to make a motion to consider a floor amendment -- Rep. J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler) made the motion to "call the previous question."

House Rules (in Rule 21) (and Robert's Rules of Order) provide that a motion to call the previous question is NOT debatable and is not amendable. House members and staff tell me that it is extremely rare for anyone to make a motion to call the question BEFORE any debate has taken place on the question. Mesnard's motion passed by a vote of 42 Ayes and 9 Nays. And the final (third read) vote by the House (sending the bill to the Senate) was 44 Ayes, 14 Nays.

Even though the incident was recorded for posterity and posted to House video archives, the Chief Clerk's office did not post the proposed amendment to the azleg.gov website. That, the fact that it took me two weeks to track down the document so I could share it here and that there was no news coverage of the smackdown lead me to believe House GOP leadership probably only mildly wanted to publicly embarrass Seel.  

So there is apparently even a limit to the crAZiness of the Republicans in the Arizona House of Representatives this year.

HB2550 is on the Senate Finance Committee agenda for today (March 20). The committee meets at 2:00pm.





Saturday, March 16, 2013

Redistricting -- Thursday's meeting

Thursday afternoon, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission met. All but a half hour of the time was in executive session. Watch the video of the meeting here.
While in executive session, discussion focused on (according to the agenda) lawsuits currently pending in federal court and Maricopa County Superior Court. One of the issues apparently discussed was whether the commission would appeal the ruling that commissioners would NOT be allowed to invoke legislative privilege.

Ultimately, the question of legislative privilege is one that may determine just how much information plaintiffs are able to uncover to find anything resembling a smoking gun to prove their claims on why the legislative map should be deemed unconstitutional and the AIRC compelled to restart the map drawing process in time for the 2014 election season.

While neither AIRC members nor staff could verify that discussion, the fact that upon resuming the public portion of the meeting no vote was taken on the question of authorizing such an appeal leads one to reasonably infer that -- at this time -- there are no plans to file said appeal.

It is also reasonable to infer the appeal could be filed at a later date if desired.

Executive director Bladine advised the members that he believes it is likely the supplemental FY2013 appropriation authorized in January will be depleted by the end of this month (March). During the meeting, Bladine indicated he would draft a letter to legislative leadership early next week requesting additional funding for the current fiscal year.

Meanwhile, trial begins on Monday, March 25 at the Sandra Day O'Connor federal courthouse in downtown Phoenix. I don't know how many of the expected six days of the trial I will be able to attend, but will post as much as I can, as soon as I can during the trial.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Redistricting and AZ Lege craziness

Tomorrow (Thursday, March 14) the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission meets primarily to discuss, in executive session, issues related to litigation, including the upcoming trial in federal court.

In addition to the executive session, exec. dir. Ray Bladine will report on recent staff activities and budget related issues. When the legislature passed the first FY2013 supplemental appropriation, Bladine had indicated that amount would not be enough to pay the bills for the entire fiscal year. Right now, it appears that the AIRC will run out of money (again) by the end of the first week of April.

The Arizona Capitol Times reported today that Arizona Democratic Party interim executive director DJ Quinlan will be required to give a deposition in the federal court lawsuit. Quinlan attended many of the AIRC business meetings and public hearings. Lawyers for the GOP plaintiffs seem to be digging for something incriminating to provide an "AH HAH!" moment in hopes the court will deem the current legislative map is unconstitutional.

That, in my mind, raises the question, "what about John Mills?" Mills is known to have been scheming with GOP commissioners as far back as the first IRC in 2001. He was at most of the meetings over the last two years also and was overheard in discussions with UNfair Trust attorneys (who are also counsel to plaintiffs in this case) bragging about his influence on the commission.

Last fall, Mills was indicted on 15 counts of wire fraud as a result of the FBI investigation that also led to charges against former state Rep. Ben Arredondo.

-----

On Monday, I reported to you that the Arizona House of Representatives had passed HB2169, undermining university students' self-funded advocacy efforts. Yesterday, we learned that House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, among those who vociferously opposed HB2169, now faces an attempt to recall him.

Former unsuccessful legislative candidate Bob Thomas of Phoenix, who is involved with the recall committee, called Fire Representative Chad Campbell, said: “People are concerned about some of the issues he’s been promoting. The list (of issues) is too long to go over right now.”
Thomas said the effort will include both paid and volunteer signature gatherers. He said they were beginning training classes for volunteer gatherers Tuesday night. “The move is on,” he said.
Secretary of State’s Office spokesman Matt Roberts said the group will need to collect about 23,000 signatures by July 10 to get the recall on the November ballot.
Campbell said he’d heard the recall effort was coming and called it politically motivated retaliation.
“They are trying to stop me from doing what I’ve been doing, which is fighting for schools, fighting for healthcare, fighting for a better Arizona,” he said. “They’d better think twice.”

Twenty-three thousand signatures from voters in LD24 who disapprove of the job Rep. Campbell does in the Arizona House is a pretty steep challenge.


According to the official canvass of the 2012 General Election, voters in LD24 elected Democratic state Sen. Katie Hobbs by a two-to-one margin over her Republican challenger. In the same election, Campbell bested the only Republican in the race (which means GOP activists tried the "single shot" strategy) by a 33,075 to 19,491 vote margin. The lone Green Party candidate amassed 5,946 votes. 

The bottom line is that "Fire Representative Chad Campbell committee" is facing a virtually impossible task in obtaining enough valid signatures to force a recall election.

Consider that it took an overwhelmingly galvanizing issue/incident to motivate enough voters to sign petitions to recall former Sen. Russell Pearce. Of course, a single legislative district may (now) seem like a manageable task compared with the current effort to gather enough signatures to recall Maricopa County's nativist sheriff. But again, with the sheriff, there has been a dramatically downward trend in his approval rating over the last few years as news of Arpaio's mismanagement and unlawful activity has persisted.

So, barring an unforeseen scandal, the GOP is simply going to see the boulder slip out from its grasp and roll back downhill with even more force against the hatemongers and Tea Potters who have bitten off far more than they can chew. 

Here's a taste of why the hatemongers disapprove of Rep. Campbell.

During the February 13th hearing of the House Appropriations Committee, Tom Betlach, director of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) testified regarding the proposal to draw down federal grant money for the Medicaid expansion pursuant to the Affordable Care Act. Betlach was explaining the significance of being able to draw in the federal money at the enhanced match rate specified in the federal legislation. 

Appropriations chair John Kavanagh, as his manner is, expressed his desire to take a "wait and see" approach. Betlach calmly asserted that the immediate impact of waiting (and not implementing the Medicaid expansion) would be devastating to the Arizona economy.

Campbell, to help Kavanagh put it in perspective, then compares this proposal to what the GOP pushed (and passed) as a tax cut in recent past legislative sessions.


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Nevertheless, Campbell is undaunted by the threat of a recall campaign.


By the way, Brewer just yesterday held a press conference with supporters to unveil an outline of her proposed legislation to enable Arizona to participate in the Medicaid expansion.
The measure, expected to be officially drafted as a budget bill in coming weeks, includes no real surprises but all the elements Brewer has outlined:
It increases eligibility for the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s Medicaid program, to cover everyone earning less than 133 percent of the federal poverty level, or just less than $15,000 a year.
It provides a “circuit breaker” that rolls back coverage for those between 100 percent and 133 percent of the poverty level if federal funding falls below 80 percent of the expansion cost.
It gives AHCCCS authority to “establish, administer and collect” a hospital assessment that will raise an estimated $256 million to pay for the state’s share of expansion, with about $100 million left over for the general fund.
That last point goes directly to the issue last year when the Arizona Supreme Court declined to reinstate AHCCCS enrollees who had been dropped due to claims of budget constraints, despite the fact that voters had authorized coverage of those people in prior year ballot measures.



Monday, March 11, 2013

Republicans in AZ House attack student freedom of speech - UPDATED 10 pm MST 3-11-13

This afternoon, the Arizona House of Representatives, on a strictly party line vote, passed HB2169 to defund the Arizona Students' Association in a blatant attack on the free speech rights of university students in our state.

According to a fact sheet prepared by House staff,
The Arizona Students’ Association (ASA) is an organization directed and funded by Arizona’s public university students. According to its mission statement, ASA “works to make sure that higher education in Arizona is affordable and accessible by advocating to elected officials and running issue campaigns to engage students.” ASA receives funding through a $2 fee paid each semester from every Arizona university student’s tuition. On February 7, 2013 the Arizona Board of Regents unanimously approved a proposal to make the $2 fee optional for students. (emphasis added)
HB2169, however, prohibits that funding altogether. It says:
Section 1.  Title 15, chapter 13, article 2, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended by adding section 15-1626.01, to read:
15-1626.01.  Transfer of fees for student organizations; prohibition; supportA.  A university under the jurisdiction of the Arizona board of regents shall not transfer any portion of the tuition or fees collected from students pursuant to section 15‑1626 or use any university student billing process to collect monies on behalf of an organization not under the jurisdiction of the Arizona board of regents and not recognized as a university student organization.B.  A university under the jurisdiction of the Arizona board of regents may establish and support student government at the university and the university recognized student organizations and clubs, and provide support for these student groups from tuition and fees pursuant to section 15-1633. 

A.R.S. § 15-1633 says (in part):
A. A person acting on behalf of a university or a person who aids another person acting on behalf of a university shall not use university personnel, equipment, materials, buildings or other resources for the purpose of influencing the outcomes of elections or to advocate support for or opposition to pending or proposed legislation.  

So, if enacted into law (which is likely and will take place if the state senate also passes it and Brewer doesn't veto it), this bill effectively defunds the Arizona Students' Association efforts to advocate on behalf of university students.

Read about some of the history that resulted in the wrath of angry Republicans and spurred the introduction of HB2169.
In 2012, ASA engaged in financial and grassroots support for Prop. 204, a ballot proposition to extend a one-cent sales tax to fund education, because it sought to fund universities and student financial aid. The ASA Board of Directors voted unanimously to contribute more than $120,000 to Prop. 204 because it was well within the organization’s mission. On numerous occasions, Regents publically criticized ASA for its support of Prop. 204.
All of this because ASA has the audacity to advocate in favor of honoring the Arizona Constitution's provision in Article 11, Section 6:
The university and all other state educational institutions shall be open to students of both sexes, and the instruction furnished shall be as nearly free as possible. (emphasis added)
Oh, I almost forgot, those big bad Republicans in the Arizona Legislature have a REALLY hard time when citizens try to "usurp their authority." Which is what they believe the exercise of direct democracy effectively does.

UPDATE:

How silly of me to earlier forget to include an especially pertinent provision from the Arizona Constitution, Article 2, Section 2, which highlights the exquisite irony of the legislature even considering HB 2169:

Political power; purpose of government
Section 2. All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights. 

I don't know to what extent HB2169 could or would be ruled unconstitutional by Arizona courts, but it seems to be fundamentally at odds with the intent and purpose set forth in the founding document.



Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Blog for Arizona named best political blog in AZ by Washington Post

Congratulations to the multiple contributors to Blog for Arizona, including Pamela Powers Hannley, David Safier, Will Greene, Bob Lord, AZBlueMeanie and Michael Bryan for being named to the list of best state political blogs (the only one from Arizona this time) by The Fix at the Washington Post.

Of course, Donna Gratehouse at Democratic Diva and Craig McDermott who writes Random Musings and Tom Prezelski who (took over for his brother Ted) writes Rum, Romanism and Rebellion  also deserve recognition, in my opinion.

In 2011, during the hot redistricting summer (for more than one reason), the Arizona Eagletarian was honored by making that list.

I'm thankful to be among this distinguished group of talented writers who no longer need to be dependent on corporate media to publish the most insightful (and sometimes inciteful) commentary in the great state of Arizona.

Long live Net Neutrality!

By the way, if you like the Arizona Eagletarian, please feel free to log in at the Washington Post (can be done by way of facebook) and put in a good word for yours truly to be included on the list.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Bidder 70

Henry David Thoreau's  contemporaries considered him a naturalist and not a radical, so they did not necessarily embrace his radical ideas on Civil Disobedience. Published in 1849, Thoreau's essay did, however, greatly influence 20th Century movers and shakers such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.
Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. The proper place to-day, the only place which Massachusetts has provided for her freer and less desponding spirits, is in her prisons, to be put out and locked out of the State by her own act, as they have already put themselves out by their principles. It is there that the fugitive slave, and the Mexican prisoner on parole, and the Indian come to plead the wrongs of his race, should find them; on that separate, but more free and honorable ground, where the State places those who are not with her, but against her — the only house in a slave State in which a free man can abide with honor. If any think that their influence would be lost there, and their voices no longer afflict the ear of the State, that they would not be as an enemy within its walls, they do not know by how much truth is stronger than error, nor how much more eloquently and effectively he can combat injustice who has experienced a little in his own person. Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence. A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight. If the alternative is to keep all just men in prison, or give up war and slavery, the State will not hesitate which to choose. If a thousand men were not to pay their tax-bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution... (emphasis added)
I confess that I had not been a student of Thoreau, and only very recently have read Civil Disobedience. But when I learned of Tim DeChristopher's story, I sat in awe of the stand this young man took, for which he is currently nearing the end of a two-year prison term. He was convicted for having subverted what amounted to an illegal oil and gas lease auction hastily conducted by the (Lame Duck) Bush administration in December 2008.

Thoreau got pretty indignant for having been jailed for one night for refusing to pay a delinquent tax bill. A relative paid it for him, drastically limiting his incarceration time. Yet Thoreau's essay has inspired people to pay a dramatically higher personal price for the causes they believe in.

Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated at age 78, but not before he led non-violent nationwide campaigns in India for economic and civil rights ultimately resulting in India achieving independence from the British Empire.

Martin Luther King Jr., of course, fought hard for civil rights for all Americans before he was assassinated in 1968 at the age of 39.

DeChristopher is the subject of Gage and Gage Productions' documentary Bidder 70.

During a Q & A session after watching Bidder 70 at the Valley Art Theater in Tempe, Tucson activist Vincent Pawlowski (wisely) urged young people in the audience to not act rashly by going out and getting themselves arrested. Young people especially must establish themselves with careers and families. A felony conviction early in their lives can throw all of that promise out the window.

There are, nevertheless, ways we can move together to enact change in society.

DeChristopher and many of his friends started Peaceful Uprising to defend a livable future through empowering nonviolent action.

Learn more about Tim DeChristopher in these clips from Up with Chris Hayes on MSNBC


Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

If you know anyone that was at the February 28 screening in Tempe, check with them (on Facebook, perhaps) to see if they have a copy and arrange to see the movie yourself, or... get your own copy of Bidder 70 on DVD.