Keep an Eye On: Supreme Court Independent Redistricting Decision

John Mills

I’ve recently covered Rank Choice Voting and some of the potential reforms around the California initiative process. Well, the Supreme Court is about to issue a major ruling on independent redistricting committees, which touches both election policy and direct democracy. Redistricting commissions are one of the election reforms Californians have successfully passed. It has lead to less safe districts and four more Democrats among the 53 California delegation to the US House of Representatives.

If the Supreme Court votes to overturn Independent Redistricting, at the behest of the Arizona Legislature which has appealed their state’s citizen approved initiative as un-constitutional, it would be a major blow against the direct democracy/ initiative process. The Arizona Legislature contends that the State’s constitution says the district boundaries will be drawn by the legislature, but the initiative, passed by the people of Arizona, gives that power to an independent redistricting committee. The legislature claims it’s not the people’s right to give away this power. The defendants claim the initiative is inherently the will of the people and supersedes the prior clause.

Of course, if the Supreme Court rules that the legislature should maintain the right, it will effect the California initiative as well. Since this state’s legislature recently became a Democrat super-majority of over 66.7% thanks to redistricting, Republicans in this state are holding their breath hoping the high court will endorse the independent redistricting initiatives. They don’t want the power going back to a Democratically controlled State legislature, which will almost assuredly draw boundary lines to entrench itself.

I think it’s fair to say we can guess how most of you will vote on this one, after all, we here in CA did already pass this initiative:

Supreme Court: Are Voter-Approved Independent Redistricting Committees Constitutional?

The Arizona Legislature has appealed an Arizona voter-approved redistricting committee.

http://www.latimes.com/local/politics/la-me-pol-california-redistricting-20150308-story.html

http://www.sfchronicle.com/news/politics/article/High-court-case-threatens-independent-electoral-6108665.php

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/09/arizona-redistricting_n_6819042.html

And if you haven’t yet, weigh in on this proposal for even more representational voting systems:

Should the US Supreme Court Allow Multi-Member Congressional Districts?

Proponents argue that multi-member districts more fairly represent their constituents than single-member districts.

More details in this blog: https://blog.civinomics.com/2015/02/10/how-much-do-you-care-about-election-reform/

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