A divided federal court has upheld the legislative map drawn by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, removing any question about which districts candidates would run in this year. The 2-1 decision by a federal panel came 13 months after the trial, which was sought by a group of Republican voters, including the wife of Senate President Andy Biggs. The plaintiffs argued the map approved by the redistricting commission in 2011 violated equal protections as ensured by the U.S. Constitution because partisanship motivated the creation of some of the 30 districts. But the court assumed that partisanship was not a contributing factor as it weighed the legal arguments in the case, although it conceded that in one district in northern Pinal County, it contributed to a commission decision to shift the boundary lines.
However, the court also ruled the change, which resulted in shifting favor to Democratic candidates, was also motivated by the commission’s goal to win pre-clearance from the U.S. Department of Justice on its first map submission. Winning pre-clearance was a “legitimate” goal, the court ruled.
In past decades, the federal agency has sent redistricting maps back for more work, saying they did not adequately protect minority voting rights. The current map won federal approval on the first go-round.
Full Article: Federal panel upholds Arizona legislative map.