Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Redistricting -- Remember when the AZ legislature sued the AIRC?

Way back when (July 2012), the Arizona Legislature sued the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission because it believes the US Constitution says the state legislature has the right to choose its own voters. Put another way, it believes ONLY the state legislature is lawfully allowed to draw Congressional district maps.

Anyway, today we learn that Chief Judge Alex Kozinsky, 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, ordered appointment of a three-judge panel to hear the case that the GOP majority in the legislature wants to put on. The complaint begins,
The Elections Clause of the United States Constitution delegates the authority over the redistricting of congressional districts to the Legislatures of the States. Contrary to this constitutional delegation, Proposition 106 (adopted in 2000) amended the Arizona Constitution – removing that authority from the Arizona State Legislature (“Legislature”) and vesting it instead with the “Independent Redistricting Commission” (“IRC”). The Legislature brings this action requesting the Court to a) declare that Proposition 106 is unconstitutional to the extent it removes congressional redistricting authority from the Legislature, b) declare that the congressional district maps adopted by the IRC are unconstitutional, and c) enjoin the Defendants from enforcing or implementing any congressional redistricting plan from the IRC beginning the day after the 2012 congressional election is held in Arizona.
Yes, you read that correctly. The Republicans in the Arizona Legislature are asking the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to declare the VOTE of the PEOPLE of ARIZONA unconstitutional.

Remember all that states' rights mumbo jumbo Republicans like to spout to engender contempt for the Obama administration? That rhetoric is NOT at all about putting the rights in the hands of voters. It's about putting it in the hands of "duly elected representatives" of those voters. Nobody put it more clearly than Sen. Al Melvin when he addressed the AIRC back in 2011.

Yes, Al Melvin, I’m now in my third year as a state senator representing LD 26. [note: he now represents LD11]
The reason I wanted to speak early on today is just the entire nature of this commission. When it was put on the ballot by Mr. Pedersen, later a Democratic candidate for US Senate and the money he placed behind this measure, it was sold to the people as an independent redistricting commission, rather than the 90 duly elected legislators in the Arizona State Legislature. 
So, now we’re dealing with that institution here in this room. Basically, we’ve got two Republicans, two Democrats, and you ma’am, the chairlady, as a so-called independent on the commission. And I’m struck by the fact, and I know this has been pointed out before, that your husband was a paid treasurer for Nancy Young Wright, a Democrat candidate in [the old] LD26 for the House.
And it came to my attention today that you specifically donated, I believe $100 to Mr. Cherny’s Democratic campaign for treasurer and that he lost to the Republican. And also that that individual, Mr. Cherny went on to become the current chairman of the Democratic Party for the state of Arizona.
So, to me, the onus is on you ma’am to be brutally and totally honest to the 6.5 million people in this state. If it wasn’t for this commission, 90 duly elected legislators would be doing this job. (emphasis mine)
Make no mistake, it was only the Majority (REPUBLICAN) caucuses that authorized this lawsuit. None of the Democratic members of either chamber voted for the idea. And in 2011, despite Melvin's nonsense claims to the contrary, it would NOT have been 90 duly elected legislators doing that job. It would most likely have been ONE now convicted political operative who spent more than ten years being paid by Arizona taxpayers to do political work for the Republican Party. That political operative, now a felon convicted of fraud, is John Mills. Mills, by the way, is due to be sentenced in October.

One has to wonder how Republicans in Democratically dominated Illinois feel about the idea of independent redistricting.


Changing the subject, today was election day in Phoenix (and some other cities and towns around Arizona). Early (and unofficial) returns for Phoenix council district 2 indicates Jim Waring very likely is reelected, right now with 76 percent of the vote; in council district 4, it now looks like Justin Johnson and Laura Pastor will face each other in a runoff; council district 6 shows Sal DiCiccio likely reelected; and in council district 8, Kate Gallego has a strong lead over second place vote getter Warren Stewart. Kate's lead at the moment is 47 percent to 22 percent (rounded). If she does not break 50 percent plus one vote, she will also have to contend with a runoff election in November, probably against Stewart.


In light of our state's GOP elected officials, their efforts to demolish the AIRC, including with the lawsuit referenced above, and having passed HB2305, the Voter Suppression Bill, former President Clinton's statement today is fitting commentary on the power struggles we face here in Arizona.


  1. Funny how the Arizona Legislature (re: Republicans) had no issue with the AIRC in 2001 and for the 10 years after that. They only had a problem when the AIRC wasn't going to bend to the will of the Republicans by giving said Republicans a permanent super-majority in the Legislature and in the Congressional delegation.

  2. Right on the money. And nothing in the amended complaint (linked in the post above) shows anything to the contrary. It's just a temper tantrum saying "Mine, mine, mine. You can't have it!"