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*** UPDATED x1 *** Supreme Court upholds Arizona’s independent redistricting commission

Monday, Jun 29, 2015

* 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

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Gruntled University Employee - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 9:53 am:

    This is the only part of Rauner’s “Turn Around Agenda” that I agree with.

  2. - Norseman - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 10:00 am:

    Now they can comfortably add congressional districts to the legislatively introduced constitutional amendment. Hopefully, the Dems take Rich’s advice and pass the amendment. Not holding my breath.

  3. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 10:01 am:

    But why do that when you can just pick one party out of a hat? /s

  4. - Jack Stephens - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 10:13 am:

    Actually needs to be nationally.

  5. - Bluegrass Boy - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 10:22 am:

    It’s definitely needed in Illinois. But the legislature who gerrymanders these districts can’t be trusted to enact this change - and it will require a lot of work to get the State population organized and educated to understand the proposal and support it. A lot of voters might vote against it because they are afraid of losing “their Rep/Sen” - so I’d be truly surprised if it happens.

  6. - A guy - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 10:29 am:


  7. - Tom - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 10:32 am:

    they draw it in the 90’s. We won 4 out of 5. We have had it ever since. I like the odds. Keep it the way it is.

  8. - Illinoisvoter - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 10:42 am:

    Be careful of what you wish for with this one. Changing suburban demographics with 1st generation immigration direct to the suburbs and
    out migration from Chicago could leave the
    GOP in Illinois as a permanent minority downstate party. Visit a grocery store in Dupage and you
    will encounter women in full Burkas or sari’s.
    Building new alliances and expanding the base
    doesn’t seem to be the focus when it is so much
    easier to fire up people’s resentments.

  9. - phocion - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 10:46 am:

    ==I like the odds. Keep it the way it is.==

    Exactly the partisan poisoned thinking that makes this initiative vital to a robust democracy in Illinois. And Illinoisvoter, so what if a fair map gives one party a majority? At least the will of the voters won’t be suspect as it is now.

  10. - Very Fed Up - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 10:52 am:

    This definitely should be done nationally.

  11. - Mister M - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 10:59 am:

    Yes, is needed.
    Will it happen in this state?
    I’m not holding my breath.

  12. - Threepwood - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 10:59 am:

    Illinois needs this reform. To support a system that values votes of some individuals more than others, that grants one group preferrential representation, explicitly FOR that disparity… I cannot begin to convey my disgust.

  13. - Name Withheld - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 11:01 am:

    Something from Arizona I can get behind!

  14. - JackD - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 11:07 am:

    As John McCarron points out in today’s Trib, unless it is done nationally, it gives Republicans a decided advantage in congressional seats.

  15. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 11:09 am:

    A very interesting perspective on the topic from the Trib’s John McCarron. He basically asserts that this is a national problem requiring a national solution. He essentially says it makes no sense for Democrats to push this given that Illinois is one of the only places where Dems have control. Worth a read.

  16. - Anyone Remember - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 11:22 am:

    JackD -
    Thank you for pointing that out.

  17. - Enviro - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 11:25 am:

    I also read today’s article on the topic from the Trib’s John McCarron, and agree with Chicago Cynic.

  18. - walker - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 11:28 am:

    Push forward for independent remapping of Illinois GA districts.

    OTOH, unless Republican-controlled remapping in most other states ceases, including Congressional seats in Illinois in this reform, would be Dems cutting their own throats.

  19. - Federalist - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 11:29 am:

    The politicos of either party do not want this change unless it benefits them.

    It now benefits the Democrats in a state that is overall becoming more Blue. They control the GA.

    Hence any such change will not be forthcoming.

  20. - The Dude Abides - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 11:35 am:

    If a sound Redistricting Amendment were passed, in my opinion that should eliminate the need to consider another item on the “turnaround agenda” which is term limits. I hope some day in the not too distant future I see Amendments passed on Redistricting and a Progressive Income Tax.

  21. - Very Fed Up - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 11:49 am:

    The Dude Abides - I wouldnt count on that Madigan has made it clear through his record that he strongly prefers a regressive flat tax.

  22. - True Cynic - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 11:51 am:

    They’ll just control the people who get appointed to the board. I believe Iowa uses a computer to draw the lines based on Census data. Can’t trust a human to do the right thing.

  23. - Anonymous - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 11:59 am:

    === 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. ===

    I think this may be true in fantasyland, but Im not so sure about reality. I would be shocked if an independent commission can draw a map with more competitive districts than we have now. Additionally, the map isn’t about competitiveness. It’s about who gets to be in power.

  24. - lake county democrat - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 12:23 pm:

    The Madigan folks go very quiet when they’re called out on gerrymandering and why they’ve squashed every effort to end it.

    A national solution would be welcome, but McCarron’s “only in opposition” argument is wrong. The principle of one-man/one-vote is sacred - the transitory politics that currently make more gerrymandered states favor the GOP than Democrats doesn’t change that.

  25. - DuPage - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 12:27 pm:

    =Independent remapping=

    This is hard to have much confidence in, especially with Rauner, Koch Bros., etc. looking for ways to influence the map. Hundreds of millions of dollars of slushy money available, well hidden payoffs, how “independent” would this process really be?

  26. - Anonin' - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 12:45 pm:

    wait til the Bobblehead and his millionaire pals start dropping their reobots into the districts — and remember they can run D or R batteries — then we will get jump in the biz climate

  27. - Anonymous - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 1:12 pm:

    === The principle of one-man/one-vote is sacred - the transitory politics that currently make more gerrymandered states favor the GOP than Democrats doesn’t change that. ===

    The current map has been challenged on the grounds that it violated one-man/one-vote and that challenged has failed.

  28. - Anonymous - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 1:13 pm:

    === The commission drawn maps would be required to protect the voting rights of racial and ethnic minorities ===

    The law requires the current map to satisfy this requirement as well.

  29. - walker - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 1:24 pm:

    The current map in no reasonable way violates “one man one vote” principles.

    A neutral map wouldn’t necessarily form many more competitive districts.

    It wouldn’t actually change the majority in either chamber, but would likely get the party counts closer to equal.

    It is not the magic pill some imagine.

    All that aside, the current mapping process is unfair and should be changed consistent with Canary’s effort.

  30. - Ahoy! - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 1:26 pm:

    –Illinois needs to get on board as well.–


  31. - ZC - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 1:30 pm:

    From the amendment text:

    (3) the redistricting plan shall respect the geographic integrity of communities sharing common social and economic interests, which do not include relationships with political parties or candidates for office. The redistricting plan shall not either intentionally or unduly discriminate against or intentionally or unduly favor any political party, political group or particular person.

    … so if there are a bunch of voters across different communities (some just inside Cook County borders, some just outside, say) who really, really want a Democratic House to protect statewide spending concerns, they’re kind of out of luck. Under this amendment, their primary voting identity - in that they may care about themselves far more as Democratic partisans, than what township they currently live in - can’t be factored into their representation. The voters just outside Cook would be more democratically represented by having a Republican Rauner clone over them, under this amendment.

    Eh …

  32. - A modest proposal - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 1:48 pm:

    –Rauner clone—

    As opposed to ppl having madigan clones represent them now?

    Additionally, I think your analysis is slightly off. The independent commission can make the judgement that those people just over the county line are a community of interest and keep them together.

  33. - zonz - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 2:35 pm:

    Contra what Canary seems to be saying, (and others who are rah-rah for an independent commission) the law is still murky — the issue involves sorting out “what measure of population should be used for determining whether the population is equally distributed among the districts.”

    from SCOTUS BLOG:
    Lyle Denniston, Major test on voter equality set for review, SCOTUSblog (May. 26, 2015, 12:14 PM),

    The Constitution has been understood for the past half-century to require that no individual’s vote count more at election time than anyone else’s. The Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday, for the first time, to clarify how that concept of equality is to be measured, when legislatures are drawing up election districts.

    The Court took on a case challenging the 2011 redistricting of the thirty-one seats in the Texas Senate, focusing on what measure of population should be used to judge whether the “one-person, one-vote” mandate has been met. That mandate originated in Reynolds v. Sims in 1964. The new case of Evenwel v. Abbott will be heard and decided next Term, as will two new criminal cases the Justices also agreed on Tuesday to hear.

  34. - zonz - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 2:45 pm:

    Should an Independent Map commission look different, or operate differently, in these scenarios
    1. continued use of census data [purely a raw population basis] to ascertain population for redistricting
    2. conversion to use NOT census data but registered voter data to ascertain population for redistricting
    3. some other way

  35. - ZC - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 2:52 pm:

    >> Additionally, I think your analysis is slightly off. The independent commission can make the judgement that those people just over the county line are a community of interest and keep them together.

    Maybe, except the amendment seems fairly explicit that “partisans” cannot be a community of interest. So you could try and define a whole range of “communities” that in effect look the pretty much the same as a community of people who regularly vote for Democrats. But then, around we go …

    Nevertheless I’m not wholly opposed to this idea. But why doesn’t Cindy Canary propose, say, four or five “ideal maps” of Illinois, what a “fair” chopping-up of IL ought to look like, to give us some advance notice about what their ideal would be?

    The objection after all is that “fairness” is always and fatally in the eye of the beholder. I might be persuaded to support the IL Map Amendment if I had some sense for what I might one day behold.

  36. - walker - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 3:05 pm:

    One thing we wouldn’t see with an independent map: the disgraceful shifting of a district boundary to specifically exclude or include an incumbent or strong challenger.

    That was done to many individuals, including a pro-choice Republican woman twice.

  37. - A modest proposal - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 3:16 pm:

    ZC - partisanship identity does not create communities of interest, but school districts, city lines, demographic data (such as race), and other shared resources can all make communities of interest.

    They do not have to follow county lines precisely, if the judgement is made. They just have to attempt to use county and township lines in their mapping process as best possible.

  38. - walker - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 3:39 pm:

    Lake County Dem: Forgive me. I don’t want to simply dismiss your “One person/One vote” argument without fully understanding it.

    I just don’t get the logic. No one, in either map, is disenfranchised. Everybody can still vote. What happens when a map is changed, is that a person who before was part of a majority interest group, can become part of the minority. The new district fully represents the views of all its new constituents, and hopefully elects someone to represent its views. What might be treated unfairly are groups of people with shared interests. That could be unfair relative to the potentialities in a neutral map; it is not exactly a “one person/one vote” issue. In fact, partisan remapping can be seen as perversely leveraging the power of the “one person/one vote” principle for partisan political advantage.

    I am with you on the need for this change, for many reasons. Perhaps you can educate me better on your rationale.

    With respect.

  39. - Juvenal - Monday, Jun 29, 15 @ 5:01 pm:

    There is no such thing as an “independent” commission and never has been.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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