Arizona Republican voters lost a challenge to an electoral districts map for the state assembly that they said favors Democrats by putting too many voters in districts with Republican majorities. A panel of federal judges voted 2-1 to reject the argument that the redrawn map by the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission violated the constitutional rights of Republican voters to equal protection and can’t be used in elections. “We conclude that the population deviations were primarily a result of good-faith efforts to comply with the Voting Rights Act, and that even though partisanship played some role in the design of the map, the Fourteenth Amendment challenge fails,” according to the panel’s majority opinion.
The Republican voters, at a trial in Phoenix, accused the Independent Redistricting Commission of “a pattern of discriminatory intent” by concentrating Republicans in districts that have a higher average population than other voting districts.
Redistricting is intended to ensure that members of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislatures represent roughly equal populations. From the first Congress, party leaders have exploited the map-making exercise by weakening the voting strength of some groups to gain an advantage, a practice known as gerrymandering.
David Cantelme, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, didn’t immediately respond to a phone call to his office seeking comment on today’s ruling.