Last month’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling voiding a key section of the Voting Rights Act requires the lines for the state’s 30 legislative districts to be redrawn before the 2014 election, an attorney for Republican interests is contending. In legal papers filed in federal court late Friday, attorney David Cantelme said the Independent Redistricting Commission’s own data shows that it overpopulated some of the districts and underpopulated others. The result, Cantelme said, was to politically disadvantage Republican candidates to the benefit of Democrats. Cantelme also pointed out to the three-judge panel hearing his legal challenge that the commission’s key legal argument for why it made those decisions was that it needed comply with the federal Voting Rights Act. More to the point, commissioners wanted to ensure that the map it drew was “precleared” by the U.S. Department of Justice as not diluting the voting strength of minorities. But the high court last month overturned a provision of that law that created a formula to identify which states and counties have a history of discrimination and therefore must submit any changes in voting laws to be precleared. That list included nine states, including Arizona, and parts of several others.
The justices said the formula, parts of which date back to 1965, is no longer valid.
With the formula now void, no state or county is subject to preclearance. And Cantelme said the court ruling effectively means that the commission had no legal right to skew the maps to meet Department of Justice concerns.
Attorneys for the commission give their response to Cantelme’s argument next month about how they fell the high court ruling should affect this litigation.
But attorney Joe Kanefield already has said the Supreme Court ruling is legally irrelevant. He said the commission, in drawing the maps in 2011, had to rely on the law as it stood at the time.
In fact, the Supreme Court ruling came a year after Cantelme first sued.
The outcome of this legal battle could determine the makeup of the Legislature for the balance of the decade.
Full Article: GOP: Voting Rights Act ruling changes redistricting lines.