Attorney For State Redistricting Commissions Says Lawmakers Are "Power Grabbing"

Oct 21, 2013

An attorney for the Independent Redistricting Commission is asking a federal court to dismiss what she contends is a power grab by state lawmakers. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer explains.

In 2000, voters approved Proposition 106 - taking the power to draw the state's congressional and legislative districts away from lawmakers, and giving it to the 5-member panel. Republican legislators did not sue at the time. But, that changed last year after they complained that the lines drawn for congressional districts following the 2010 census favor Democrats. They now contend the U.S. Constitution allows only the legislature to draw congressional lines.

But, attorney Mary O'Grady told the judges that constitutional provision is about the legislative power of the states. "It's up to the state to decide how it's going to define its legislative power," O'Grady said. "And in Arizona, we have it through the people and through the Legislature. And the people established the commission to exercise legislative power over redistricting."

She did agree with legislators that the initiative took power from them. But, O'Grady said that was what voters wanted. "What they're trying to do by filing this motion," O'Grady said, "is take back the power that voters took away from them when they approved Proposition 106."

The court battle comes as the commission is looking for an extra $1.2 million from the Legislature to pay its legal bills to fight 3 lawsuits - including this on by the Legislature.