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U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Arizona Redistricting Case

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The Arizona Republic
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The U.S. Supreme Court agreed this morning to consider who can legally draw the state’s congressional districts. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.

Prior to 2000 both congressional and legislative lines were drawn by state lawmakers. That year, voters approved a measure giving the power to the Independent Redistricting Commission. But, two years ago lawmakers sued, citing a provision in the U.S. Constitution which says only the Legislature can draw congressional maps. The majority of a three-judge panel disagreed, sending sent the case to the high court. Commission attorney Mary O’Grady acknowledged the constitutional language. But, she said it does not mean what the lawmakers contend.

“The Legislature in this context, in the Elections Clause, is referring to the lawmaking process of the state. It’s not dictating how that lawmaking process ought to be exercised. It’s just referring to whatever the lawmaking process of the state is,” O’Grady said.

And, she pointed out the Arizona Constitution specifically allows voters to make their own laws through the initiative process, which is exactly how the commission was formed. Senate President Andy Biggs called that a “wholly specious argument.”

“In Arizona, the Legislature is defined as the bicameral house, consisting of the House and the Senate, elected by the people to be their representatives in the Legislature,” Biggs said.

A hearing could come as early as January.

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