Arizona Sues Its Own Redistricting Commission

     PHOENIX (CN) – The Legislature sued the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission in Federal Court, claiming the result of the referendum by which state voters created the commission was unconstitutional.
     Proposition 106, approved in 2000 by 56 percent of Arizona voters, “removes entirely from the Legislature the authority to prescribe legislative and congressional district lines and reassigns that authority wholly to the IRC, a new entity created by Prop. 106,” the complaint states.
     The Legislature claims Prop. 106 also “eliminates entirely the Legislature’s prescriptive role in congressional redistricting, and creates a new and extremely limited role.”
     The Legislature seeks an injunction to stop the implementation of “any congressional redistricting plan from the IRC beginning the day after the 2012 congressional election is held in Arizona.”
     The complaint states: “Though the Legislature seeks permanent injunctive relief, it does not seek immediate relief as to the 2012 congressional election because the current IRC plan has already been certified and the 2012 election cycle is already well underway.”
     The Legislature claims that before voters approved Prop. 106, the Arizona Constitution “recognized that the responsibility and authority of establishing both congressional and legislative district lines resided in the Legislature.”
     Under those rules, the Legislature introduced redistricting measures as legislation, debated it “in a bipartisan, joint committee on redistricting,” read the redistricting legislation for three days on the floor, and sent it to the governor for approval.
     The Legislature claims that an Arizona governor has not disapproved of its redistricting legislation since 1981, when “Governor Bruce Babbitt vetoed legislative and congressional district lines approved by the Legislature. The Legislature called itself into special session and overrode the governor’s veto.”
     The Redistricting Commission suedGov. Jan Brewer in November, claiming she unconstitutionally asked the state Senate to “concur in her decision to remove commissioners from office,” after it hired a mapping consultant who had worked with President Barack Obama.
     The Arizona Supreme Court later reinstated Chairwoman Colleen Mathis to the commission.
     Another federal lawsuitwas filed against the commission in May, by 13 Republican voters, who claimed it “systematically overpopulated Republican-plurality districts and underpopulated Democrat-plurality.”
     In the new complaint, the Legislature seeks a declaration that Prop. 106 violates the Election Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
     Commission members Colleen Mathis, Linda McNulty, Jose Herrera, Scott Freeman, and Richard Stertz are named as defendants, as is Secretary of State Ken Bennett.
     The Legislature is represented by Gregrey Jernigan of the Office of the Arizona State Senate President.

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