The Independent Redistricting Commission wants a judge to throw out efforts by Republicans to void the map it created for the state’s nine congressional districts. Legal papers filed late Monday in Maricopa County Superior Court charge those seeking a new map are using “innuendo, selectively extracted transcript experts, and speculation to weave a conspiracy theory intended to cast doubt on the commission’s work.” Meanwhile, in a related lawsuit in U.S. District Court, a Democratic lawyer has questioned whether the judge hearing a challenge to the state’s 30 legislative district lines should be removed because 10 years ago he represented the Republicans in a similar fight over the redrawing of political boundaries. Republicans are challenging the new congressional and legislative district lines, saying the commission favored Democrats in drawing the lines, which will be used in elections for the next 10 years, and violated several mandates of the 2000 voter-approved initiative creating the commission, and in both cases the failure to follow procedures resulted in maps that do not meet the constitutional requirements.
The suit over legislative district lines is pending before a three-judge panel that includes U.S. District Judge Neil Wake. Legal ethics experts say Wake’s having repr. sented Arizonans for Fair and Legal Redistricting, a Republican group that helped defend the last redistricting commission’s map of legislative districts when it was challenged by Democrats, doesn’t disqualify him from hearing this challenge But Democratic attorney Michael Mandell said Wake’s participation is worrisome because the judge will be “reviewing an issue in which he was a litigant the last time around, and he was very entrenched in the litigation.”