The case for aggressive litigation in the AIRC redistricting cases

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

This is the reason why I believe the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC) should have been aggressive and filed a counter-claim against the secretive GOP redistricting organization FAIR Trust and its lawyer/lobbyists who tried to influence the AIRC on behalf of the Arizona GOP delegation. It would have allowed for litigation discovery and testimony under oath from everyone involved in FAIR Trust, and it would have conflicted out the lawyer/lobbyists who are currently representing the GOP in the redistricting lawsuits before the courts.

The Orlando Sentinel reports, Florida Supreme Court rules lawmakers can be forced to testify in redistricting court fight:

The Florida Supreme Court ruled Friday that state lawmakers can be forced to testify and turn over documents related to whether they intentionally redrew political maps for partisan gain last year.

The fight between voting-rights groups such as the League of Women Voters of Florida and the Legislature stems from 2010 constitutional amendments adopted by voters that specify lawmakers couldn’t base their decisions when re-drawing congressional and legislative districts on the desire for political gain.

Specifically, the Fair Districts amendments outlawed drawing new lines with the intent to favor or disfavor incumbents or political parties.

The groups challenging last year’s maps say that is exactly what happened — and have been battling in courts since spring 2012 over whether they can compel lawmakers and their staff to testify under oath and turn over draft versions of the maps that might shed light on their intentions.

The Legislature has argued it was protected from such disclosures by a legislative privilege. Forcing lawmakers and their staffs to testify under oath would have a "chilling effect" on future policy-making, they argued. The lawsuit is slated to go to trial early next year.

Because the AIRC did not pursue any counter-claim, we may never know who was behind the secretive GOP redistricting organization FAIR Trust and funded it, and the extent to which they exerted influence over or coordinated with GOP commissioners. We also have the spectacle of the lawyers/lobbyists for FAIR Trust who lobbied the AIRC representing the GOP in court in these redistricting cases. These lawyers are likely fact witnesses given their dual role as lobbyists.

We needed to put the fear of God (public exposure through litigation) in the participants of FAIR Trust. That is not going to happen.

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