* Today’s US Supreme Court opinion…
In 2000, Arizona voters adopted an initiative, Proposition 106, aimed at “ending the practice of gerrymandering and improving voter and candidate participation in elections.” App. 50. Proposition 106 amended Arizona’s Constitution to remove redistricting authority from the Arizona Legislature and vest that authority in an independent commission, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC or Commission). After the 2010 census, as after the 2000 census, the AIRC adopted redistricting maps for congressional as well as state legislative districts.
The Arizona Legislature challenged the map the Commission adopted in January 2012 for congressional districts. Recognizing that the voters could control redistricting for state legislators, Brief for Appellant 42, 47; Tr. of Oral Arg. 3–4, the Arizona Legislature sued the AIRC in federal court seeking a declaration that the Commission and its map for congressional districts violated the “Elections Clause” of the U. S. Constitution.
* The Court just ruled against the Legislature…
While exercise of the initiative was not at issue in this Court’s prior decisions, there is no constitutional barrier to a State’s empowerment of its people by embracing that form of lawmaking.
Illinois needs to get on board as well.
*** UPDATE *** Press relese…
Cynthia Canary, Executive Director of Independent Maps coalition issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission:
The U.S. Supreme Court ruling erases any doubt about the constitutionality of redistricting by independent commissions.
The Court majority opinion also made it clear that states with independent commissions have succeeded to a great degree in limiting the conflicts of interest that occur when legislators have control over drawing of legislative district maps. Independent redistricting commissions “impede legislators from choosing their voters instead of facilitating the voters’ choice of their representatives,” according to the opinion. The court said the people of Arizona used the initiative process to curb gerrymandering and restore the core principle of republican government – that voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around.
Today, it’s clear that there is no federal constitutional prohibition on any redistricting commissions.
The petition drive to put the Independent Map Amendment before Illinois voters continues, full speed ahead.
The current redistricting process in Illinois has state legislators in charge of drawing the boundary lines of their own districts. It has so damaged our democracy that nearly 60 percent of legislators elected last year didn’t even have an opponent. Redistricting by an independent commission will help restore representative democracy and give voters more choices.
Illinois voters don’t want district boundaries manipulated to benefit an incumbent or party. They want to choose their own representatives.
The Independent Map Amendment would create an 11-member commission representing the demographic and geographic diversity of the state. The commission meetings and records would be open to the public, and the commission would be required to hold public hearings throughout the state. The commission drawn maps would be required to protect the voting rights of racial and ethnic minorities, and the maps would be drawn without regard to incumbency or partisanship. Adoption of the maps would require approval of seven commissioners, including at least two Democrats and two Republicans.
The amendment text and more detailed explanation of the reform are available at www.MapAmendment.org.