Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Raising Arizona

Tomorrow’s another SCOTUS day! I know we’re all waiting with bated breath for the Obamacare and same-sex marriage decisions, which are going to be huge deals, obviously, and their outcomes will touch the lives of millions.

But Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission could drop tomorrow, too (in fact, that’s what I have in my office pool). What if the Court sides with the sore loser Arizona Republicans (they deemed a congressional map with multiple competitive districts "losing") and declares redistricting commissions unconstitutional?

The impact is pretty impossible to predict -- it all depends on the scope of the ruling. The Arizona and California commissions were created by voters and are completely independent of legislators or the legislative process, so if Arizona’s goes, they both go.
This alone means that 62 congressional districts are about to be redrawn by state lawmakers. 

But the decision could be more broad. A ruling that takes out the appointed commissions (legislators appoint a majority of members but aren't directly involved in actual map-drawing process) will change the redistricting process in Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, New Jersey, and Washington.
That's another 27 congressional districts in the hands of state legislative map-drawers.

What if the decision wipes out backup commissions (which draw congressional maps if the legislature deadlocks), too? That's Connecticut and Indiana, an additional 14 congressional districts.

And what about advisory commissions? In Iowa, Maine, and New York, these commissions draft the congressional maps and submit them to the legislature for approval. In Ohio, the commission "supports the work of the legislature." Iowa's commission involves no state legislators, while the Maine, New York, and Ohio commissions are mostly made up of and/or are appointed by state lawmakers. If the Arizona decision does away with these commissions, state legislators will have sole authority to draw 49 additional congressional districts.

A decision in favor of the Arizona State Legislature will affect at least 62 districts, and it could impact as many as 152 districts. Either way, it's a BFD.

Could a legislature still give away its own authority to draw maps to a non-legislative commission? If a couple of legislators were on the commission, would that be sufficient? What if an independent commission drew the map, but a legislature has to approve it (the Iowa model)? Do governors even have authority to veto congressional maps (they already don’t in some places – North Carolina, for example)?

Or maybe SCOTUS will decide in favor of the IRC and all my math and speculation are for jack. ¯\_()_/¯

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