U.S. High Court Upholds Citizen Redistricting

CalChamberInCourtThe U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of Arizona citizens’ decision to have congressional district lines drawn by an independent redistricting commission rather than legislators.

The decision was in keeping with a friend-of-the-court brief filed jointly by the California Chamber of Commerce, three former California governors and two political reformers.

California voters formed a similar commission in 2010 when voters passed Proposition 20.

The court’s June 29 decision in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, et al., determined that voters may use the initiative process to authorize an independent commission to draw congressional districts.

Affirms California Process

“The decision removed the conflicted legislature from the redistricting process and upheld the will of the people via the initiative process,” said CalChamber President and CEO Allan Zaremberg.

“The ruling affirms California’s commitment to the voters to have competitive congressional districts. Politicians will only win re-election if they have earned the support of voters,” he said.

Citizen Redistricting Defense

The CalChamber, former Governors George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Charles T. Munger, Jr. and Bill Mundell jointly filed an amicus brief in the case supporting the constitutionality of Arizona citizens’ decision to have congressional voting lines drawn by an independent redistricting commission rather than by legislators.

The case heard by the high court involved a constitutional challenge by Arizona state legislators in the wake of a vote by the people of Arizona in 2000 to form the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.

Arizona state legislators contended they alone had the authority to determine the lines for congressional election districts and filed a lawsuit challenging formation of the independent commission. The matter was appealed all the way up to the high court.

Threat Averted

The Arizona case threatened the will of California voters who passed Propositions 11 and 20. Proposition 11, passed by California voters in 2008, created a 14-member independent citizens commission to redraw state legislative district lines based on strict nonpartisan rules. Proposition 20, passed by voters in 2010, extended the commission’s authority to creating congressional districts.

“The decision is good news for California voters who wanted to end the inherent conflict of interest when legislators drew self-serving district boundary lines following each census. The lines drawn by California’s Citizens Redistricting Commission have resulted in the fairest and most competitive elections in California history,” said Zaremberg.