Despite recent gains in drawing fairer lines for state lawmakers’ districts, congressional district maps could look like Rorschach test ink blots for the foreseeable future. One of the reasons for the impasse in reforming congressional redistricting is a U.S. Supreme Court case debated Monday. In the case, Arizona lawmakers say they were cut out of the congressional line-drawing process when voters created an independent commission in 2000. The board of two Republicans, two Democrats and an independent took the pencil out of the hands of partisan politicians.
Paul Clement, who is representing Arizona lawmakers, told the court the authority to draw congressional lines lies solely with the state lawmakers, meaning voters can’t assign it elsewhere. “The framers understood the difference between direct democracy and representative democracy, and they made a conscious choice,” Clement told justices Monday.
But that’s not the way many states make laws surrounding federal elections. Instead, they use the initiative process or constitutional conventions. Changes etched into the constitution trump laws written by the legislature, said Dan Tokaji, a law professor and expert in election law at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law. “If the Arizona legislature prevails, it would blow a big hole in many states’ election laws,” Tokaji said.
Full Article: Redistricting war waged in US Supreme Court.