AIRC Update: the GOP files its brief in Harris v. AIRC


Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Howard Fischer reports today that the lawyers/lobbyists for the GOP's secretive redistricting organization FAIR Trust, representing the Arizona GOP, have filed their brief requested by the U.S. District Court of Arizona in Harris v. AIRC on the question of the effects of Shelby County v. Holder on this case. GOP lawyer asks court to order new legislative districts for '14:

Arizona's 30 legislative districts need to be redrawn before the 2014
election, an attorney for Republican interests contends, citing the
U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling that voided a key section of the
Voting Rights Act.

In legal papers filed in federal court late
Friday, attorney David Cantelme said the Independent Redistricting
Commission's data show that it overpopulated some of the districts and
underpopulated others.

he result was to politically disadvantage Republican candidates, he said.

also pointed out to the three-judge panel that the commission's key
legal argument for why it made those decisions was that it needed to
comply with the federal Voting Rights Act.

Commissioners wanted to
ensure that the map it drew was "precleared" by the U.S. Justice
Department and didn't dilute the voting strength of minorities.

Howard Fischer's stenographic reporting for the the lawyers/lobbyists of the GOP's secretive redistricting organization FAIR Trust has been a persistent problem from day one. It is misleading and misinforms readers.

As I have posted several times, the population disparity argument the GOP is pursuing is a nonstarter. Cantelme's argument that state legislative district populations must
be strictlly equal is not supported at law. The U.S. Supreme Court has
permitted population deviations to accommodate other legitimate

The U.S. Supreme Court just last year (Tennant v. Jefferson Co. Commission 567 U.S. ___ 2012)
upheld a West Virginia congressional map that differed in population
between districts by as much as 4,871 people. Lyle Denniston wrote at, Opinion recap: Hedging on “one person, one vote”:

“Zero variance” in population is not the new constitutional norm for
redistricting, the Court made clear
.  Just because computers can
produce almost exactly equal-sized districts, the Constitution does not
require it, the decision said.

After sitting on the case from West Virginia all summer long, the
Court produced an eight-page, unsigned ruling that largely deferred to
the wishes of that state’s legislature on how to craft the three
districts for choosing its House delegation. The opinion can be found here. The new ruling came in the case of Tennant v. Jefferson County Commission (docket 11-1184).

"The equal population standard for congressional districts is notably
stricter than for legislative or other types of political districts. In
contrast, state and local redistricting followed a “substantially equal”
standard, which translated to a rough rule/guideline allowing most maps
a 10% deviation
. While not a clear cut rule, it has become an
operational standard in the redistricting community." U.S. Supreme Court Elaborates on Equal Population Requirement.

As for the effects of Shelby County v. Holder on this case, the attorneys for the AIRC are correct: it is legally irrelevant to this case.

Attorneys for the commission give their response to Cantelme's argument next month.

attorney Joe Kanefield said the Supreme Court ruling is legally
irrelevant. He said the commission, in drawing the maps in 2011, had to
rely on the law as it stood at the time.

The Supreme Court ruling came a year after Cantelme first sued.

As I have said before, Arizona's redistricting was a completed act. At the time of
pre-clearance approval by the DOJ and the 2012 election, the VRA was
constitutional and the law of the land for almost 50 years. There was no
constitutional infirmity. I agree with the AIRC's attorney Joe
Kanefield that Shelby County v. Holder is "legally irrelevant to this case."

What the Arizona GOP is arguing is that it wants to take a trip in
Mr. Peabody's WAYBAC time machine to go back in time to when the AIRC
submitted its maps to the DOJ and to apply Shelby County v. Holder retrospectively to invalidate the DOJ pre-clearance process as if it never happened. This is not how the law works. Shelby County v. Holder applies prospectively to redistricting after the decision, it does not apply retrospectively to completed acts of redistricting prior to the decision. The rule of law demands finality.

The Arizona GOP is pursuing losing arguments, but you would never know this from reading Howard Fischer's stenographic reporting. He keeps holding out false hope to GOP partisans.

For those of you following this case closely, here is the remaining briefing schedule:

AIRC Defendant's brief is due by August 2;

Plaintiff's reply is due by August 9.

The order does not indicate oral argument, but the parties could request it.

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AZ BlueMeanie
The Blue Meanie is an Arizona citizen who wishes, for professional reasons, to remain anonymous when blogging about politics. Armed with a deep knowledge of the law, politics and public policy, as well as pen filled with all the colors stolen from Pepperland, the Blue Meanie’s mission is to pursue and prosecute the hypocrites, liars, and fools of politics and the media – which, in practical terms, is nearly all of them. Don’t even try to unmask him or he’ll seal you in a music-proof bubble and rendition you to Pepperland for a good face-stomping. Read blog posts by the infamous and prolific AZ Blue Meanie here.


  1. ” Cantelme’s argument that state legislative district populations must be strictlly equal is not supported at law. ”

    Neither was Shelby v. Holder…The majority opinion never actually stated any constitutional basis for the decision, presuming they hold the 15th Amendment to be constitutional, although they’ll certainly point to that collection of shit-house rats and rabid weasels known as the “House GOP Caucus” as proof the Legislature doesn’t feel the need to do this anymore, either.

    Any revamped VRA doesn’t stand a snowballs chance in (the all new, super-hot, Global warming-added) July.

    ( “Any resemblance of the ANSHGWA July to Hell is ‘purely coincidental’, a spokesman for Hell stated in a tweet”).

    Also, a key statement in that SCOTUS ruling: “that largely deferred to the wishes of that state’s legislature” is the straw that the local shit-house rats and rabid weasels will seize upon to affirm that they should be able to redraw the districts, Arizona Constitution be damned. Because doncha know, this isn’t the United States of America, but a random collection of fifty little tyrannies.

    Because Americans in South carolina are a different species than Americans in Arizona or California.

    Why, oh why do all the laboratories of Democracy have to be frikkin meth labs?

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