Justices Spit Out Arizona Redistricting Feud

      WASHINGTON (CN) — Arizona voters failed to sway the Supreme Court on Wednesday that a redistricting commission favored Democrats, since the outcome ultimately favored Republicans.
     A baker’s dozen of Republican voters led by Wesley Harris by the suit in question against the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, an institution the state adopted via Proposition 106 with the express purpose of ending the gerrymandering that traditionally accompanies legislative attempts at drawing congressional district lines.
     No holders of public office may sit on the five-member commission, nor can candidates, and no more than two members can represent the same political party. The fifth member, who serves as chair, may not be registered with any party already on the commission.
     Harris and the other voters took issue with a map that took effect in 2012, saying it contained underpopulated Democrat-leaning districts and overpopulated Republican-leaning districts for partisan reasons.
     When the U.S. Supreme Court took up the case on June 30, 2015, it had just the day before extinguished a challenge by the Arizona Legislature to the commission’s existence.
     The justices forecast defeat for the voters at oral arguments in December and were unanimous in doing just that Wednesday morning.
     “Because the maximum population deviation between the largest and the smallest district is less than 10 percent, the appellants cannot simply rely upon the numbers to show that the plan violates the Constitution,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the court.
     Breyer cited precedent foreclosing states from having to justify “minor deviations from mathematical equality,” since by themselves they do not “make out a prima facie case of invidious discrimination” under the 14th Amendment.
     “In sum, in a case like this one, those attacking a state-approved plan must show that it is more probable than not that a deviation of less than 10 percent reflects the predominance of illegitimate reapportionment factors rather than the ‘legitimate considerations’ to which we have referred in [past] cases,” Breyer added. “Given the inherent difficulty of measuring and comparing factors that may legitimately account for small deviations from strict mathematical equality, we believe that attacks on deviations under 10 percent will succeed only rarely, in unusual cases. And we are not surprised that the appellants have failed to meet their burden here.”

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