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Arizona Redistricting Ruling May Have National Impact

PHOTO: Arizona's Independent Redistricting Commission, which creates congressional and legislative districts based on Census Bureau data, has been deemed constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. The ruling could have a national impact. Photo credit: U.S. Census Bureau.
PHOTO: Arizona's Independent Redistricting Commission, which creates congressional and legislative districts based on Census Bureau data, has been deemed constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. The ruling could have a national impact. Photo credit: U.S. Census Bureau.
June 30, 2015

PHOENIX – The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of Arizona's voter-approved Independent Redistricting Commission could have a national impact. The high court's five-to-four ruling affirmed the commission is constitutional.

Robyn Prudhomme-Bauer, past president of the League of Women Voters of Arizona, says Monday's ruling could motivate voters in other states to push for similar commissions.

"Independent redistricting commissions or panels are prevalent in, I believe, 12 other states," she says. "I am sure there are groups and legislators around the country who are also looking at this ruling."

The five-member Independent Redistricting Commission was created through a ballot initiative in 2000 to redraw Arizona's congressional and legislative districts to reflect the results of the most recent census. It consists of two Democrats and two Republicans, as well as a fifth member – usually an Independent – selected by the other four members. Previously, redistricting was done by the Legislature.

The Supreme Court ruled against the Republican-controlled Arizona Legislature, which had filed a lawsuit claiming the redistricting commission violates the U.S. Constitution.

Kathay Feng, national redistricting director with the nonpartisan advocacy group Common Cause, says the court's decision should make it easier for states to gain greater control of the redistricting process.

"Even in states that do not have an initiative process, a system can be created where the Legislature may choose to create that alternative process, or citizens can go through a constitutional process to try to create an alternative system," she says.

Feng adds she is hopeful more independent commissions will form before the next redistricting happens following the 2020 census.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - AZ