Category Archives: Redistricting

Poor People’s Campaign kickoff on Monday

Here is something you can persuade your local church congregation into supporting and participating in. After all, WWJD?

On Monday, thousands of low-wage workers, clergy and activists will gather at the U.S. Capitol and more than 30 statehouses across the country to kick off the Poor People’s Campaign (organization website), a civil disobedience movement that aims to push the issue of poverty to the top of the national political agenda. Here’s how the Poor People’s Campaign aims to finish what MLK started:

Inspired by a 1968 initiative planned by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the multiracial coalition will involve 40 days of protests and direct actions to highlight the issues of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy and militarism. Organizers are pitching it as one of the largest waves of nonviolent direct action in U.S. history.

About 41 million Americans live below the official poverty line, the majority of them white. Organizers with the Poor People’s Campaign say official measures of poverty are too narrow, and the number of poor and low-income Americans expands to 140 million if food, clothing, housing and utility costs, as well as government assistance programs, are taken into account.

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Thank God it’s Sine Die!

The Arizona legislature adjourned around 12:26 a.m. Friday morning. This farce is finally over.

The AP reports, Arizona Legislature closes session with big issues undone:

The Arizona Legislature adjourned its 2018 session early Friday, leaving without taking action on two of Gov. Doug Ducey’s biggest initiatives of the year, a water policy overhaul and an ambitious school safety proposal (called it!) that fell victim to concerns about the civil rights of gun owners.

The March for Our Lives student led movement for gun safety can now turn its organizational skills and energy to defeating the legislators who thwarted their efforts to save students lives in the election this November.

The Republican-controlled Legislature also failed to repeal a contentious school voucher expansion law that is set to be on the November ballot after opponents of the 2017 measure gathered enough signatures last summer to block its implementation. The fate of the voucher expansion was caught up in a momentous push by public school teachers who rose up in early March and eventually went on strike, forcing the Republican governor and lawmakers to award them with big raises and more school funding in the budget, although not enough to meet the demands of teachers who are ending a six-day strike and heading back to class on Friday.

Republican Sens. Kate Brophy McGee and Bob Worsley both went on record Thursday opposing any repeal, with Worsley calling the issue “kryptonite” and Brophy McGee simply saying “it needs to go to the ballot.” With all Democrats opposed, there was no way it could pass the Senate.

“The huge grassroots group, and I’ve talked to them multiple times, checked with them multiple tomes, they’re willing to take it to the ballot,” Brophy McGee said. “That’s where they want it to go.”

“It’s honoring the people who got it to the ballot,” Brophy McGee said, noting that opponents of expansion of the voucher program gathered more than 100,000 signatures.

Teachers and other education advocates banded together as Save Our Schools Arizona and gathered more than 100,000 signatures to block the universal voucher bill last summer, a move that kept it from taking effect until voters statewide could weigh in.

They argued that private school vouchers siphoned money from the state’s cash-strapped public schools, while backers said they give parents a choice about where their children attend school.

There has been talk all session of majority Republicans repealing or replacing it to negate the ballot measure.

The organizational skills and energy of the #RedforEd movement of the past few weeks can now turn to the campaign for the Prop. 305 referendum and defeating all of those legislators who voted for this “vouchers on steroids” bill and the governor who signed it. You will be needed to offset the massive dark money campaign coming from the “Kochtopus” school privatization forces, and the Center for Arizona Policy and the American Federation for Children.

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SCOTUS to hear second case of partisan gerrymandering on Wednesday

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in a partisan gerrymandering case from Wisconsin, Gill v. Whitford, last October. The case provided an initial test for the efficiency gap, a proposed standard for determining discriminatory effect that counts the number of votes each party wastes in an election to determine whether either party enjoyed a systematic advantage in turning votes into seats. A decision is still pending.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument in a second case of partisan gerrymandering from Maryland, Benisek v. Lamone. This case provides an initial test of a First Amendment theory under political association.

Amy Howe of SCOTUSblog has an Argument preview:

In October, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in a case alleging that Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled legislature had drawn the state’s redistricting plan to put Democrats at a disadvantage – a claim known as “partisan gerrymandering.” The plaintiffs challenging that plan argued that it violated their constitutional right to be treated equally under the law, but Justice Anthony Kennedy suggested that the issue might be better framed as a violation of the freedom of speech and association guaranteed by the First Amendment. [On Wednesday], the justices will hear oral argument in another redistricting case – this time, a challenge by Republican voters to a single federal congressional district drawn by Democratic officials in Maryland – presenting precisely that question. The Supreme Court’s rulings in the Wisconsin and Maryland cases will almost certainly shape the face of redistricting for years, if not decades, to come.

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SCOTUS rejects GOP appeal of PA congressional map, more redistricting cases to follow

The legal strategy of challenging GOP gerrymandering under state constitutional provisions rather than federal law has proven successful in Pennsylvania. Abstention doctrine applies, i.e., the federal courts lack jurisdiction to hear appeals from state Supreme Court decisions interpreting state constitution provisions.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the appeal from GOP legislative leaders in the state of Pennsylvania challenging the Supreme Court of the state of Pennsylvania imposing new congressional districts after having struck down GOP gerrymandered districts as unconstitutional under the state constitution. Supreme Court refuses to stop new congressional maps in Pennsylvania:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned down a request from Republican legislative leaders in Pennsylvania to block a redrawn congressional map that creates more parity between the political parties in the state.

The practical impact is the 2018 elections are likely to be held under a map much more favorable to Democrats, who scored an apparent victory last week in a special election in a strongly Republican congressional district. The 2011 map that has been used this decade has resulted in Republicans consistently winning 13 of the state’s 18 congressional seats.

Monday’s action was the second time that the court declined to get involved in the partisan battle that has roiled Pennsylvania politics. The commonwealth’s highest court earlier this year ruled that a map drawn by Republican leaders in 2011 “clearly, plainly and palpably” violated the free-and-equal-elections clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

The U.S. Supreme Court deliberated nearly two weeks before turning down the request to stop the map from being used in this fall’s elections. Generally the justices stay out of the way when a state’s highest court is interpreting its own state constitution.

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AZ Senate approves evil GOP plan to undermine the AIRC

Last month I warned you the Evil GOP bastards are trying to negate the AIRC so the legislature does redistricting maps again.

Yesterday the evil GOP bastards in the Senate approved their amended but still flawed plan on a party-line vote. The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports Senate passes redistricting overhaul on party-line vote:

On a 17-13 party line vote, the Senate advanced an amended version of Senate President Steve Yarbrough’s proposal to alter the structure of the Independent Redistricting Commission, an effort Democrats charged was politically motivated.

Voters would have to approve the plan, though.

As amended, SCR 1034 (.pdf) increases the size of the commission from a five- to nine-member body, with an equal split among Republican, Democrat and independent commissioners. Yarbrough, R-Chandler, argued that the effort will better represent the roughly one-third of Arizona voters who aren’t registered with a political party and will dilute efforts by either party to “hijack” the redistricting process in their favor.

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Authoritarian Tea-Publicans are plotting to impeach the Pa. Supreme Court over new congressional map

Last month, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the GOP-gerrymandered congressional districts as violative of the Pennsylvania state constitution, and ordered all 18 districts redistricted.

The court gave Democratic Governor Tom Wolf and the Republican-controlled General Assembly about three weeks to approve a fast-tracked plan in its Jan. 22 order.

Neither side was able to take advantage of that window, which set up the next step in the court’s order: Its own imposition of new district lines by Feb. 19.

House and Senate Republicans made one last pitch to try to forestall the state court takeover of Pennsylvania’s Congressional maps, but were rebuffed by Gov. Wolf. Pa. redistricting is in the court’s hands now, after Gov. Wolf rebuffs last pitch for delay.

On Monday, State Supreme Court released a new congressional map for 2018 elections:

Under the court’s redrawn map, districts more closely align with county lines, and only 13 counties are split among two or three districts. By contrast, under the last map, enacted by the legislature in 2011, more than twice as many counties were split among multiple districts.

In striking down that map last month as unconstitutional, the justices said the new districts should be as compact and contiguous as possible. Their new map, they wrote in an order, is “superior or comparable” to proposals submitted by the participants and interested groups during the legal challenge that led to the historic ruling.

Pa-map

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