Robert Robb's column "Judges find partisan games with redistricting map" grossly distorts the federal court's recent decision finding that Arizona's legislative districts are constitutional (Arizona Republic Opinions, Wednesday).
The Republican-backed lawsuit claimed that minor
population deviations in the legislative districts were the result of
partisan bias favoring Democrats. The facts tell a different story, one
The majority of the three-judge panel found that the
desire to comply with the Voting Rights Act, not partisanship, was the
predominant reason for the minor population deviations the Arizona
Independent Redistricting Commission made in some of Arizona's 30
In other words, it was compliance with federal law, not partisan bias, that motivated the commission's redistricting work.
the law at the time, Arizona could not use new voting maps without
getting "preclearance" from the federal government that the maps
complied with the Voting Rights Act. As a result of the commission's
work, the Department of Justice approved Arizona's legislative districts
on the first attempt, something Arizona had never done before.
So what exactly are the "partisan games" Robb says the judges found?
majority opinion found that partisanship played some role when a change
was proposed for Legislative District 8 in Pinal County. The facts
showed that the commission approved changes that made District 8 more
competitive and also improved minority voting strength. Favoring
competitive districts is part of the commission's responsibilities under
Arizona's Constitution. District 8 became one of a handful of
legislative districts in which either party's candidate could prevail.
Competitiveness aside, complying with the Voting Rights Act played a significant part in District 8's changes.
the court noted, a majority of the commission supported the District 8
changes only after the commission was advised that the changes would
improve the state's chances of receiving preclearance.
finding that partisanship "may have played some role" in one proposal
for one of 30 districts does not add up to what Robb describes as a
"hijacked" process or the lawsuit's claim that partisanship drove the
After all, if there was a partisan conspiracy bent on
propping up Democrats, it failed: Republicans remain in control of the
Arizona Legislature, with comfortable majorities in both the House and
Robb's concern about partisan hijacking is contradicted by his
concern about the Republican commissioners not being able to choose
their own counsel to represent the commission. He says this "defeats the
purpose of having bipartisan counsel." How, exactly? The commission's
lawyers are ethically required to represent the entire commission and
not individual commissioners or partisan interests.
provided conspiracy theorists their day in court, and they lost. The
court found no conspiracy among the commission's chair and its two
Democratic members to draw maps that favor Democrats.
found no partisan bias in the mapping consultant's work, no partisan
bias in the hiring of lawyers and, most importantly, no violation of
The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission
completed its work in public meetings in which anyone who wanted to do
so could express their views. Its many maps and statistical tables are
available to anyone.
Arizona's redistricting was a thorough,
public process that produced maps that comply with the law. The
commission did its job under immense pressure, and did it well.
O'Grady and Joseph Kanefield are attorneys for the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. Paul Charlton is an attorney for commission
chairwoman Colleen Coyle Mathis.
The entire official record of the proceedings of the AIRC is available at the commission's website. The Arizona Eagletarian began publishing additional details and observations on the process in December 2010 and continues through the current time as necessary.
UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE
I should note that the headline is a rhetorical question. However, if Mr. Robb would like to respond I would be amenable to publishing his response.
However, our good friend John "Private Prison sycophant" Kavanagh submitted comments for my consideration. In this instance, he appeared to be wanting to speak FOR Mr. Robb, which I don't think is at all necessary. He also attempted, much like he's been told repeatedly that I will NOT let him do here, to make the debate about what he wants it to be about. Because I have told him that repeatedly, I need offer no other explanation for refusing to approve his comments.
John, if you want to respond to my previous post, about Machiavellian Democracy, and stay on topic, I'd love to get your take. Of course, I doubt you have the emotional honesty to recognize your policy efforts (and bill proposals) as oppressive when they actually are.
On another note, I have reviewed Judge Wake's 29-page dissenting opinion in Harris and plan to write up my analysis soon. I actually found it encouraging rather than maddening, in part because Wake uses so much hyperbole and non-substantive loaded language that it strengthens my hunch that he wrote it for Tea Party activists, not for Supreme Court justices.