Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Redistricting: Harris case before SCOTUS

Capitol Media Services reported over the weekend that Secretary of State Michele Reagan has joined with Republican interests in filing briefs opposing the Arizona Redistricting Commission's legislative map (the one currently in use).
PHOENIX -- Secretary of State Michele Reagan has joined with Republican interests in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to void the state's current legislative redistricting plan.
In new filings with the high court, attorneys for Reagan point out the population differences among the 30 legislative districts created in 2011 by the Independent Redistricting Commission. They said this, by itself, raises constitutional questions because it effectively gives voters in some districts more power than others.
Ultimately, what they allege is ONLY what they allege. Lower courts have already ruled that the Harris claims are invalid. This is Wes Harris' Hail Mary Pass with the clock running down. Except, of course, that the final buzzer likely won't sound until next summer.

We don't know who is paying Harris' legal bills for this challenge (Andy Biggshot's wife is one of the co-plaintiffs). Now that Reagan has crossed the line and is taking a more partisan role in trying to stomp down competitive elections (and thereby disenfranchise so many more voters), taxpayers are likely again footing part of the bill.

Harris and his co-plaintiffs (in the SCOTUS filing, they are called Appellants) filed their brief last week. In it, they state that the questions before the justices are:
1. Does the desire to gain partisan advantage for one political party justify creating legislative districts of unequal population that deviate from the one-person, one-vote principle of the Equal Protection Clause?
2. Does the desire to obtain favorable preclearance review by the Justice Department permit the creation of legislative districts that deviate from the one-person, one-vote principle? And, even if creating unequal districts to obtain preclearance approval was once justified, is this still a legitimate justification after Shelby Cnty., Ala. v. Holder, 133 S. Ct. 2612 (2013)?
On the other hand, Reagan's brief states the questions thus:
1. Does the desire to gain partisan advantage for one political party justify intentionally creating over-populated legislative districts that result in tens of thousands of individual voters being denied Equal Protection because their individual votes are devalued, violating the one-person, one-vote principle?
2. Does the desire to obtain favorable preclearance review by the Justice Department permit the creation of legislative districts that deviate from the one-person, one-vote principle? And, even if creating unequal districts to obtain preclearance approval was once justified, is this still a legitimate justification after Shelby County v. Holder, 133 S. Ct. 2612 (2013)?
The second question, with the exception of the SCOTUS ruling citation, is identical in both briefs. The first question is essentially the same, but one is slightly more verbose than the other.

It boils down to the hope, essentially by Republican bullies, that SCOTUS will invalidate the justification for competitive districts in the Arizona Constitution (as amended by voters), by severely tightening the threshold by which legislative district population variances are deemed to be insignificant.

A friend, when I posted Howie Fischer's story on Facebook, remarked that if the AIRC intended to give the Democratic Party advantage in the drawing of the legislative map, they most assuredly failed.

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