Is it unconstitutional for a majority of voters to take redistricting out of the hands of politicians? That is the question before the Supreme Court.

Arizona’s legislature is challenging the authority of a redistricting plan devised by an independent commission created by ballot initiative and passed by voters in 2000.

Essentially, the Republican-controlled legislature is suing the state’s voters, arguing that taking away its right to draw congressional districts is unconstitutional because the elections clause in Article I of the U.S. Constitution limits the power for drawing congressional districts to “the Legislature.”

Oral arguments on Monday focused on the meaning of “legislature” as used in the Constitution.

Those supporting the idea of citizen redistricting commissions argue that voters acting through the ballot-initiative process to enact laws are, in effect, a legislative body.

If voters can approve laws directly through ballot initiatives, why can’t they also set up a mechanism for drawing legislative districts in the same manner?

More than a dozen amicus briefs have been filed in support of the Arizona Redistricting Commission, including from the U.S. Justice Department, the League of Women Voters,  Common Cause, the American Civil Liberties..., and the Campaign Legal Center; the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU; former California governors Arnold SchwarzeneggerPete Wilson, and George Deukmejian as well as other California leaders who supported that state’s independent redistricting commission.

Several states, including Washington, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Virginia have also weighed in, as have 20 members of Congress–11 Democrats and nine Republicans– in support of the independent redistricting commission.

In their brief, the members of Congress argue that partisan gerrymandering “undercuts voters’ ability to exercise a meaningful choice among candidates, diminishes robust political debate, and may lead to disengagement from the electoral process.”

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Replies to This Discussion

The facts of the vote back in 2000 were false and the public was lied to..... the argument was that it would cost less money and that the people on the commission would be volunteers.  Nothing was said about them ALL being attorney's because they are selected by people who select attorneys.  2 Repubs 2 Dems and one independent that would chair the process. There was nothing said that the people who are making the selection would not be partisan and the "independent" would be anything but because, as it turns out, nobody is really an "independent" and who knew that the Chair would be the wife of a democrat operative. It is all still "partisan" but now down to 5 very easily controlled people and not the Legislature of 90.

And the outfit that put the initiative together was chaired by none other than Dennis K Burke-- sound familiar?? How about "Fast and Furious" US Attorney Dennis K Burke......






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