Notorious RBG for the win! Surprising win for the AIRC over our lawless Tea-Publican Arizona legislature


 Via SCOTUSblog Live Blog — compiled from summaries:

notorious_rbg_tank_topArizona Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. “Notorious RBG” for the Court. The decision of the three-judge panel is affirmed. 5-4. There are several dissenting opinions. Kennedy joins majority. Chief dissents, joined by Scalia/Thomas/Alito. Scalia dissents, joined by Thomas. Thomas dissents, joined by Scalia.

The Arizona legislature does have standing. But the Court rules that both the Elections Clause and the federal statute at issue allow Arizona to use a commission to draft federal congressional districts. From the final paragraph of the majority opinion: “The people of Arizona turned to the initiative to curb the practice of gerrymandering and, thereby, to ensure that Members of Congress would have “an habitual recollection of their dependence on the people.” The Federalist No. 57, at 350 (J. Madison). In so acting, Arizona voters sought to restore “the core principle of republican government,” namely, “that the voters should choose their representa­tives, not the other way around.” Berman, Managing Gerrymandering, 83 Texas L. Rev. 781 (2005). The Elec­tions Clause does not hinder that endeavor.”

Background on the AZ decision: The Constitution’s Elections Clause provides that the “Times, Places, and Manner of holding Elections for . . . Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the Legislature thereof.” In 2000, Arizona voters amended the state’s constitution to give control over redistricting of federal congressional districts to an independent commission. This case is a challenge by the state legislature to that transfer, on the ground that it violated the Elections Clause.

The Opinion is here (.pdf). I will have more on this opinion later.

The Orders List also contained good news for voting rights advocates: Kobach v. US Election Assistance Comm’n (14-1164) has been denied. This means the decision of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals striking down Arizona’s Prop. 200 (2004) proof-of-citizenship requirement for voter registration and a similar provision of Kansas law stands. Read the Opinion Here (.pdf). The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled that Kansas cannot require proof-of-citizenship documents — almost always a birth certificate or passport — from prospective voters who register using a federal voter registration form. The court also said that a federal agency doesn’t have to alter the [federal] form to fit Kansas requirements. Arizona’s Prop. 200 has a similar proof-of-citzenship requirement. The denial is surprising, given that Justice Antonin Scalia suggested the convoluted legal process to Kansas and Arizona in his earlier Supreme Court opinion in Arizona v. The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc.

This case does not resolve the “dual election system” that Kansas and Arizona set up which is the subject of separate lawsuits.

In an another Arizona related case, Renzi v. United States and its companion case, Sandlin v. US, were denied. So this is the end of the line for Rick Renzi. Enjoy prison.

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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. looks like sinema can continue to play her little games and mcsally not so much.

  2. I agree with TS, great win, but with risks for monkey business when the leg does the appointments. All the more reason we need to work hard to elect Democrats and pay attention to the commission. One question. I see the the legislature counted its chickens before they hatched, and hired a mapping company. Does anyone know if the contract is publically available? I hope there is a clause that allows us to get our money back. If this, this is another transfer of public money to political businesses and allies of the Republican leadership, just like all the legal fees for their half-baked statutes on immigration, abortion, and voting rights.

  3. Every State should now use Independent Commissions. The ruling was shocking, as I thought for sure the SCOTUS would split the baby, letting the legislature do the Congressional districts and the IRC do the legislative seats based on the State Constitution. The statement by Biggs and Gowan is the most hypocritical and disgusting statement possible. Those two essentially told the people of Arizona to pound sand, we are the one party dictatorship so WE know best. The unelected Supreme Court is only useful when it is useful to us (Citizens United, Hobby Lobby). A shocking but wonderful victory for the actual people of Arizona, not the arrogant one party, undisclosed, u transparent dictatorship, now lead by Il Ducey.

    • To understand this decision you have to look at the history if Initiative in providing law for states across the country. If they had overturned this tbat might have opened the door to overturning a tremendous number of laws and indeed the entirety of direct law-making by Initiative. There is also a risk, the independent Redistricting Commission could wind ip being co-opted by appointment of people who are ot truly independent. That is the risk. Watch how the process will be controlled by who the applicants are. We got lucky in that the fifth vote on this commission turned out to be an independent thinker, but that may not always be the case. Still I am glad that the Commisssion was upheld.

  4. Great win for the people of AZ! Great win for others that also use an Independent Commission (CA)… could it be that this will be a catalyst to restoring democracy in America? 🙂

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