Quarterly Redistricting Update: January 2015


October 2014– The Supreme Court agreed to hear the Arizona State Legislature’s case against the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission – formed in 2000 when voters approved Proposition 106. This proposition amended the state constitution to assign the redistricting function to a 5 member body. The seminal question in this case is whether the U.S. Constitution’s Elections Clause allows the redistricting task to be delegated away from the legislature. As simple a question as that may seem, there are several other preliminary issues of law that could keep the high court from ever answering the question. There are issues of standing, justiciability and jurisdiction.

Documents Released in Florida Redistricting Case

The legal saga continues in the case of Florida’s Congressional map. The Florida League of Women Voters appealed a circuit ruling in August that had found two congressional districts to be illegal gerrymanders in contravention to the state constitution ban on partisan line-drawing. The League disapproved of a revised map drawn by legislature and ultimately approved by the circuit court.

The Florida Supreme Court released documents in October that reveal a coordinated effort by Republican consultants to influence the map drawing. In particular, testimony and emails showed that consultant drawn maps were given to members of the public to submit at public hearings.

Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District Struck Down by Court

A Federal district court declared Virginia’s congressional map unconstitutional, finding the 3rd district to be a racial gerrymander. The state’s lone majority Black district, plaintiff’s say was intentionally packed with African-American voters to make surrounding districts more competitive for Republicans.

The case could be appealed to the Supreme Court or Virginia could begin the likely difficult task of drawing and enacting a new map.

City of Yakima, Washington

After having its at-large method of electing city council members declared unconstitutional because of its adverse effect on the city’s growing Latino population, officials approved a new election method and map. That map included five voting districts and two at-large seats. The ACLU, a plaintiff in the original case against the council, rejected a feature in the council’s plan that would allow the top two vote getters for the at-large seats to be automatically designated mayor and assistant mayor.



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