Phoenix, AZ – The state Supreme Court today Wednesday blew apart the last hope
of Democrats to get legislative districts they find more
favorable in the next election -- and possibly take control of
the House or Senate.
Voters created an independent commission in 2000 to craft
legislative and congressional districts. The law says districts
must be equal in population, geographically compact and respect
communities of interest. It also says these districts, to the
extent possible, should be politically competitive, giving
Democrats and Republicans a roughly equal chance of getting
elected. The plan the panel approved had four such districts. A
coalition of Democrats and Hispanics sued, saying commissioners
should have approved an alternative with seven. But Chief Justice
Ruth McGregor said the fact that more competitive districts could
have been created does not mean it was wrong for the panel not to
do that. The ruling leaves one option for those who want more
competitive districts: Change the law. Ken Clark, a former state
legislator, said he is weighing such a move, saying that's
probably what voters wanted.
(They certainly weren't thinking it was going to be dead last.
You could argue whether one would come over the other. But I
don't think in 2000 when people voted for this they thought
competition would be dead last.)
If Clark wants the change he needs to get moving: He would need
more than 230,000 signatures on petitions by July 2010 to get the
plan on next year's ballot.