U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Arizona’s Independent Redistricting Commission

June 29, 2015

We are very pleased that today the United States Supreme Court affirmed the constitutional authority of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission to establish congressional and legislative districts, ruling against a challenge filed by the Arizona Legislature. 

In a 5-to-4 decision, the Court left in place the system that was created by voters in 2000 to encourage more competitive districts.

Commission Chair Colleen Coyle Mathis said: “We are very pleased with the Court’s decision. Arizona voters decided that they wanted an independent citizen commission, rather than the Legislature, to be responsible for both congressional and legislative redistricting when they passed proposition 106 in 2000. This is a victory not only for the people of Arizona but for the entire country. We are very grateful for the superb advocacy of Seth Waxman and his team at Wilmer Hale as well as all those who submitted amicus briefs on our behalf.”

The Arizona Republic wrote of the decision: “If the Republican-led Legislature had won, lawmakers might have drawn boundaries to favor the GOP. They could have lumped multiple incumbent Democrats into one district, such as U.S. Reps. Kyrsten Sinema and Ruben Gallego in Phoenix, or tilted to the right some swing seats, such as the northeastern Arizona seat currently held by Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick. She is running for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, creating an open seat in that district.”

Independent commissions across the country also could have been dismantled and political maps redrawn, in some cases in favor of Democrats, such as in California.

The decision has special resonance for us. Osborn Maledon partner Mary O’Grady and Joseph Kanefield of Ballard Spahr represent the Commission in its work.