Republican interests head to federal court today hoping to realign the state’s legislative districts more to their liking. Challengers are pinning their hopes on the fact that 30 districts crafted by the Independent Redistricting Commission are not all equal in population. Attorney David Cantelme contends the differences were done “deliberately, intentionally and in violation of the one-person/one-vote principle.” The goal of the commission, he charges, was to cluster as many Republicans as possible together in districts, leaving the other, underpopulated districts with more Democrats than otherwise would occur, giving Democrats an unfair and illegal advantage in electing their own candidates to the Legislature. Attorneys for the commission do not dispute the population disparities.
But Joseph Kanefield and Colin Campbell say any difference of less than 10 percent among the districts is “presumptively constitutional” unless challengers can prove there is an illegal or irrational basis for the differences.
They said the commission made changes to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act, which required creation of a certain number of districts where minorities have a chance to elect someone of their choosing.
Hanging in the balance could be the political makeup of the Legislature through the end of the decade. Before 2012, Republicans had 21 of the 30 Senate seats and a 40-20 edge in the House. Last year’s election narrowed those leads to 17-13 and 36-24, respectively.
If the judges agree with challengers, they likely would order the commission to redraw the lines for the 2014 race, but this time with directions as to what they can and cannot do.
Full Article: Arizona redistricting challenge heads to US court today.