Twenty-four hours after giving constitutional backing for Arizona’s use of an independent commission to draw new election district maps for its members of Congress, the Supreme Court on Tuesday took on a case complaining that the same state agency wrongly used race and partisanship in crafting state legislative district boundaries. This was one of five new cases in which the Court granted review in the final round of regular orders before the Justices began their summer recess. Other cases dealt with public employee unionism, states’ immunity from lawsuits in other states’ courts, federal courts’ authority to hear securities cases based on state law, and Indian tribes’ rights in contracting with the federal government over public services for tribal members. All will be heard in the new Term starting in October.
The Justices took no action Tuesday on Mississippi’s plea to uphold its new abortion law, which a lower court said would lead to the closing of the last abortion clinic in the state. That case may be on hold until the Court decides what to do about a similar case from Texas. Action may be delayed until the new Term, but could come during the summer recess, although that seems less likely.
The new election law case, Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, was apparently held inactive on the Court’s docket until it ruled on a claim by the state legislature that it was unconstitutional to hand the congressional redistricting task to an independent agency not elected by the people.
The Court rejected that challenge in a divided decision Monday, and then, on Tuesday, ordered a review of how the commission handled the fashioning of state legislative election maps in the wake of the 2010 Census.