As I just obtained this brief and the California Citizens' Redistricting Commission's amicus brief yesterday, I have not had the opportunity to read them yet but am confident the arguments will be persuasive and will prevail... even though the 27-page California brief states this as its conclusion.
Nothing in federal law precludes Arizona, or California from enacting, by initiative, an innovative system that provides for redistricting to be carried out by independent commissions, thus removing partisanship from that process yet still ensuring that districts satisfy federal law.The problem with that conclusion is that partisanship is NOT removed from redistricting processes by instituting independent commissions. Rather, partisan elected officials, who have inherent conflicts of interest, ARE removed from the process, allowing the PEOPLE to assert their rightful sovereignty as intended by the Framers of the US Constitution.
Further, there have been some excellent analyses written up by law professors regarding this case recently, including this one by University of Chicago's Nicholas Stephanopolis, titled Arizona and Anti-Reform, the abstract of which states,
The Supreme Court is on the cusp of rejecting one of the best ideas for reforming American elections: independent commissions for congressional redistricting. According to the plaintiffs in a pending case, a commission is not “the Legislature” of a state. And under the Elections Clause, it is only “the Legislature” that may set congressional district boundaries.
There are good reasons, grounded in text and precedent, for the Court to rebuff this challenge. And these reasons are being aired effectively in the case’s briefing. In this symposium contribution, then, I develop three other kinds of arguments for redistricting commissions. Together, they illuminate the high theoretical, empirical, and policy stakes of this debate.
First, commissions are supported by the political process theory that underlies many Court decisions. Process theory contends that judicial intervention is most justified when the political process has broken down in some way. Gerrymandering, of course, is a quintessential case of democratic breakdown. The Court itself thus could (and should) begin policing gerrymanders. And the Court should welcome the transfer of redistricting authority from the elected branches to commissions. Then the risk of breakdown declines without the Court even needing to enter this particular thicket.
Second, commission usage leads to demonstrable improvements in key democratic values. The existing literature links commissions to greater partisan fairness, higher competitiveness, and better representation. And in a rigorous new study, spanning federal and state elections over the last forty years, I find that commissions, courts, and divided governments all increase partisan fairness relative to unified governments. At the federal level, in particular, commissions increase partisan fairness by up to fifty percent.
And third, the implications of the plaintiffs’ position are more sweeping than even they may realize. If only “the Legislature” may draw congressional district lines, then governors should not be able to veto plans, nor should state courts be able to assess their legality. And beyond redistricting, intrusions into any other aspect of federal elections by governors, courts, agencies, or voters should be invalid as well. In short, a victory for the plaintiffs could amount to an unnecessary election law revolution.
And speaking of election revolutions, tomorrow (Saturday, January 24) the Arizona Democratic Party and perhaps the Arizona GOP also will conduct their once every two years reorganization.
Thus far, the list of candidates includes: