State Capitol News
9:07 am
Wed August 6, 2014

Supreme Court to Rule on State Independent Redistricting

The U.S. Supreme Court could announce at its first public session of the year whether lawmakers will get to redraw the state’s congressional lines. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.

Independent Redistricting Commission attorney Mary O'Grady
Independent Redistricting Commission attorney Mary O'Grady
Credit Arizona Republic


A 2000 voter-approved measure took the task of creating legislative and congressional districts away from lawmakers and gave it to the Independent Redistricting Commission. But, when the 2012 election gave Democrats a 5-4 edge in the congressional delegation, the Republican-controlled Legislature sued to get the power back. They argue the U.S. Constitution requires “the legislature” to handle matters of congressional elections. And, they want the high court to rule that means only elected lawmakers. But, commission attorney Mary O’Grady said “the legislature” means the whole lawmaking process. And in Arizona, voters can write their own laws.

“The people of Arizona, through our lawmaking process, which is the initiative process, said that for redistricting our state lawmaking process will be done through the five-member citizen commission. That’s how we’re going to do this in the state of Arizona,” O’Grady said.

What the high court rules has political implications. If the justices side with legislators, it means they get to redraw lines for the 2016 campaign — likely in a way more favorable to the Republican majority.