Tuesday, December 8, 2015

READ: AG Brnovich's Argument To U.S. Supreme Court Re: Redistricting, Entire Argument

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court today, on behalf of the State and on the same side as the Republicans challenging Arizona's most-recent redistricting.
The entire argument was one hour, and Brnovich's portion was approximately 10 minutes. (Brnovich transcript below)

Brnovich argued that it did not matter that the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission had good motives - complying with the Voting Rights Act - for not making sure all districts had the same number of voters, because the motive does not matter "when what you have is an 20 undermining of the fundamental principle of one­person, 21 one­vote."

The Justices let him finish his opening statement before peppering him with questions. The Supreme Court has not struck down redistricting plans in the past if the population deviation is below 10%.  Brnovich's most persistent argument was that the AIRC intentionally under-populated minority-favorable districts, even though it remained under 10%. Which led to this exchange:
JUSTICE KAGAN:  It's a policy.  I mean, it's an intentional policy.
MR. BRNOVICH:  I guess, you know, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  And so our position is, regardless of their intention, if they are doing it in a systematic way or intending to overpopulate certain districts, under­populate other districts, that is unconstitutional. The Voting Rights Act then would ­­
JUSTICE KAGAN:  Even though it just, say, takes you from 4 to 5 percent, or from 7 to 8 percent.You're not crossing the 10 percent threshold.  But as long as you're going up, and you're doing it purposefully ­­
JUSTICE KAGAN:  ­­ in the sense of we have a policy to maintain county lines, that's impermissible? 8
MR. BRNOVICH:  Yes, Justice Kagan.  The position of the State is that when it's done in a systematic and intentional manner, when you create, essentially, barrios of ­­ boroughs, excuse me ­­ of certain folks, and then you overpopulate other districts, that violates this Court's one­person, one­vote principle.

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