Court ruling spurs backers’ hopes for redistricting changes

The challenge lost in federal court in 2014 and again in the Supreme Court by the familiar 5-to-4 vote.


“This was a sweeping affirmation of the California model, which allows citizens to draw the lines rather than legislators picking and choosing their voters”, he says. “The Framers selected the elected representatives of the people to conduct congressional redistricting”, the statement said.

“Today’s US Supreme Court decision was a strong affirmation of California’s independent redistricting process and constitutional right of voters to prevent self-interested gerrymandering by state legislatures”, said Jim Mayer, President and CEO of CA Fwd.

The 5-4 outcome Monday preserves efforts in 13 states to limit partisan influence in redistricting. Most notably, California uses an independent commission to draw electoral boundaries for its largest-in-the-nation congressional delegation. Once the commission draws up redistricting plans, legislative leaders are allowed to comment, but can not alter the maps, and the governor can not veto them, explains The Washington Post. He says the state’s dual-registration system will remain in place for people who register with the federal form but don’t provide citizenship documents.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that “lawmaking power in Arizona includes the initiative process” and that “the invention of the initiative was in full harmony with the Constitution’s conception of the people as the font of governmental power”.

Voters should choose their representatives and not vice versa, and the constitution doesn’t hinder that, she concluded. “Five of the four (justices) read it broadly”.

The high court, with a 5-4 decision, rejected a constitutional challenge in Arizona to the use of independent commissions. Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas signed onto Roberts’ opinion.

Other states use a combination of independent commissions and legislative decision-making. With the GOP’s current House majority aided by their domination of congressional line drawing in many states, some Republicans conceded that reducing that power could hurt them but would be hard for opponents to achieve. The counter argument, drawn from the Arizona Constitution, is that the Legislature is only part of the legislature. Republicans sued after the independent commission’s USA House map in 2012 produced four safe districts for Republicans, two for Democrats and made the other three seats competitive. Several minority-rights groups, including the Arizona chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens, backed the EAC at the appeals court level.

The ruling was good news for Arizona and the dozen other states that have experimented with redistricting commissions, as well as other states that have been contemplating a switch but were awaiting a ruling from the Supreme Court.

California also has a redistricting commission that was created through ballot initiative.

“Democrats would have a strong majority either way. Like Arizonans, Californians demanded fair and transparent redistricting that prioritizes the voice of the public over politics”, Feng said.


“It would seem to me your best opportunity to move forward reform in the future will be in Democratic leaning states like Illinois”, Michael McDonald, a professor at the University of Florida who researches election law, told msnbc.

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