JUSTICE GINSBURG delivered the opinion of the Court.
This case concerns an endeavor by Arizona voters to address the problem of partisan gerrymandering—the drawing of legislative district lines to subordinate adherents of one political party and entrench a rival party in power.1“[P]artisan gerrymanders,” this Court has recognized, “[are incompatible] with democratic principles.” Vieth v. Jubelirer , 541 U. S. 267, 292 (2004) (plurality opinion); id., at 316 (KENNEDY, J., concurring in judgment). Even so, the Court in Vieth did not grant relief on the plaintiffs’ partisan gerrymander claim. The plurality held the matter nonjusticiable. Id. , at 281. JUSTICE KENNEDY found no standard workable in that case, but left open the possibility that a suitable standard might be identified in later litigation. Id. , at 317. [...]
In sum, our precedent teaches that redistricting is a legislative function, to be performed in accordance with the State’s prescriptions for lawmaking, which may include the referendum and the Governor’s veto. The exercise of the initiative, we acknowledge, was not at issue in our prior decisions. But as developed below, we see no constitutional barrier to a State’s empowerment of its people by embracing that form of lawmaking. [...]
In accord with the District Court, see supra, at 9, we hold that the Elections Clause permits the people of Arizona to provide for redistricting by independent commission. To restate the key question in this case, the issue centrally debated by the parties: Absent congressional authorization, does the Elections Clause preclude the people of Arizona from creating a commission operating independently of the state legislature to establish congressional districts? The history and purpose of the Clause weigh heavily against such preclusion, as does the animating principle of our Constitution that the people themselves are the originating source of all the powers of government.HUGE thanks are due to several people at this historic moment.
First, the co-authors of Prop 106, Bart Turner, Dennis Burke, and Ann Eschinger.
Also, the current members of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, Linda McNulty, Cid Kallen, Scott Freeman, Rick Stertz and Colleen Coyle Mathis; and the staff, especially executive director Ray Bladine and deputy director, Kristina Gomez.
From the AIRC:
Commission Chair Colleen Coyle Mathis said: “We are thrilled with the Court’s decision. Arizona voters decided that they wanted an independent citizen commission, rather than the Legislature, to be responsible for both congressional and legislative redistricting when they passed Proposition 106 in 2000. This is a victory not only for the people of Arizona, but for the entire country. We are very grateful for the superb advocacy of Seth Waxman and his team at Wilmer Hale as well as all those who submitted amicus briefs on our behalf.”From Prop 106 co-author (and Glendale City Councilman) Bart Turner:
What a relief to see the Court has chosen to continue the string of last week’s common sense rulings with one more today that allows voters to begin to regain control of their Congress by establishing independent redistricting commissions. Where incumbents are allowed to choose their voters, election outcomes are, in essence, pre-ordained. Where independent commissions are used to draw district lines voters have more real choices, candidates actually compete for votes, and winners govern more in the interest of all citizens, not just in the interest the base of their political party.Lastly, on this momentous day, I'll call to your recollection what I said in the wake of the oral arguments, on March 5 I closed my blog post with this,
The bottom line is that, in my view, predictions of the demise of independent redistricting are stupendously premature. There is absolutely ZERO legitimacy, from the 18th Century understanding and view of Republicanism, in what the Arizona Legislature has done and is doing with this lawsuit.Last week, I wrote,
The other big one I'm watching, naturally, is on Congressional redistricting. After the oral arguments, most (but not all) court watching pundits seemed close to 100 percent certain the legislature would win this one. A few saw it differently. I'll side with the few, at this point. As I have written since early March, the court must have considered substantially more than what was covered in the oral arguments.The fight for the PEOPLE never ends, as the plutocrats and oligarchs will never stop trying to usurp the people's authority. But this is a HUGE victory.
Big thanks are due to supporters of the Arizona Eagletarian, especially for allowing me to witness the oral arguments. Without that experience, I too may have doubted the outcome. Though I hedged in print and in conversation, in my heart I believed from the start that this outcome was the only rational decision that could have been made.