Arizona’s contentious redistricting process heated up again with the filing Friday of a pair of Republican-backed lawsuits challenging new congressional and legislative districts approved by a state commission. Each lawsuit asked a court to declare one of the maps unconstitutional and to order the state’s redistricting commission to draw a replacement map for use in elections after this year. However, the lawsuit challenging the legislative districts asked that a three-judge panel of federal judges draw an interim legislative map for use in this year’s elections. The suit filed in state court to challenge the map of nine U.S. House districts doesn’t ask for an interim map.
Both lawsuits said Arizona’s redistricting commission violated state constitutional requirements on processes and criteria for drawing maps, and the suit challenging the legislative district map also said it unconstitutionally packs Republicans into certain districts to give Democrats an advantage in other districts. Arizona voters created the commission in 2000, taking redistricting out of the hands of the Legislature and the governor in a change that supporters said would remove politicians’ self-interest from mapping decisions. Redistricting carries high stakes for political parties and their candidates because where lines are drawn can help or hurt candidates’ election prospects.
The lawsuits were filed one day after the U.S. Justice Department notified the Independent Redistricting Commission that the legislative map had cleared a routine federal review for compliance with the Voting Rights Act, a law that protects voting rights of minorities. The department previously said the congressional map had cleared a similar review.
Full Article: Arizona redistricting maps challenged by lawsuits.