Friday, May 22, 2015

3 Arizona Democratic Representatives Join Bipartisan California Group Co-Sponsoring Bill To Delay Effect of POSSIBLE U.S. Supreme Court Decision On Arizona's Redistricting


Three of Arizona's Democratic Representatives yesterday joined a bipartisan group of California lawmakers in co-sponsoring a bill that would delay redistricting IF the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of the Arizona State Legislature and declares the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission unconstitutional.

The suit by the Republican-controlled state legislature to throw out the current Congressional district boundaries was heard by the Justices in March, and their opinion could come as soon as this coming Tuesday, or as late as the end of June.

It challenges the voter-approved setup of taking the decennial redistricting mostly out of the hands of the State Legislature and putting it in the hands of an independent commission - appointed by the legislature.  California and four other states (Hawaii, Washington, New Jersey and Idaho) have similar commissions.

The bill introduced yesterday by California Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R) and Alan Lowenthal (D) would require the six states to retain their current Congressional districts until after the 2020 Census; it does not mention the Supreme Court case.  The full text was provided to Arizona's Politics and is reproduced below; it is not yet on Congress' website.

Rohrabacher and Lowenthal signed on 11 other California Reps as co-sponsors - five Democrats and six Republicans.

However, in Arizona, only three Democrats wanted to sign on to a bill that would delay a redistricting.  Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-CD3), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-CD1) and Ruben Gallego (D-CD7) are co-sponsors.  Arizona's fourth Democratic Representative, Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) - or, more appropriately, her Phoenix-East Valley district - is the main target of the Republicans' Supreme Court effort.

Sinema did not co-sponsor the measure.  However, she is very actively using the impending Supreme Court decision in fundraising this week.  As she told supporters and potential supporters in an email Friday afternoon, "We have to be ready if the Supreme Court rules against the bipartisan Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission and turns our district over to the Tea Party."

As bipartisan as the "Citizens' Districts Preservation Act" might be (elsewhere), it is unlikely to get close to becoming law. First, the Supreme Court's decision is still unknown. Second, if the Justices strike down Arizona's Congressional district boundaries, it would likely call into question the constitutionality of this bill to freeze the districts until 2022.  Third, it is unlikely that a Republican-controlled Congress would pass a bill that Arizona Republicans so strongly feel costs the party one or more seats in Congress.  (Arizona's delegation was tilted in favor of Democrats, 5-4, after the 2012 election with the new map, although the GOP gained one seat back in 2014.)

--10/2/14: ANALYSIS: U.S. Supreme Court's Decision To Hear Arizona Redistricting Case, Most Likely In January
--12/3/14: READ: U.S. Constitution REQUIRES Lawmakers Handle Redistricting, Says Arizona Legislature In Its Supreme Court Brief
--12/22/14: BREAKING: U.S. Supreme Court Sets Oral Argument On Legislature's Redistricting Appeal For March 2

TEXT OF H.R.2501:

To require certain States to retain the Congressional redistricting
plans in effect as of the first day of the One
Hundred Fourteenth Congress until such States carry
out a redistricting plan in response to the apportionment
of Representatives resulting from the regular decennial
census conducted in 2020.
1 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representa-
tives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

2 This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Citizens’ Districts
3 Preservation Act’’.
6 2020 CENSUS.
7 (a) RETENTION OF PLANS.—Each State referred to
8 in subsection (b) shall retain the Congressional redis9
tricting plan in effect in such State as of the first day
10 of the One Hundred Fourteenth Congress until such State
11 carries out a redistricting plan in response to the appor12
tionment of Representatives resulting from the regular de13
cennial census conducted in 2020.
14 (b) STATES DESCRIBED.—The States referred to in
15 this subsection are as follows:
16 (1) Arizona.
17 (2) California.
18 (3) Hawaii.
19 (4) Idaho.
20 (5) New Jersey.

21 (6) Washington.

(Arizona attorney Paul Weich contributed in the preparation of this report.)

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