AZAN Statement on Supreme Court Decisions Furthering a Government Representative of the People

MEDIA UPDATE

CONTACT: Danny Hernandez
danny@azadvocacy.org
602-297-2500

(PHOENIX) June 29, 2015 - Today, the Supreme Court made two decisive decisions enhancing a government in Arizona truly by and for the people. In a 5-4 decision, the Court opined in favor of the voter-enacted Independent Redistricting Commission. Additionally, the court denied to hear Kobach v. U.S. Election Assistance Commission, affirming the Tenth Circuit decision prohibiting states to alter the federal voter registration form with additional, unnecessary documents by eligible citizens.

Statement by AZAN Board President Dr. Marie Provine on Supreme Court Decision in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission:

“The people of Arizona, and all other states who curb gerrymandering with independent redistricting commissions can do so. Legislators don't get a free pass under the U.S. Constitution to undermine America's form of democracy.”

Statement by AZAN Executive Director Sam Wercinski on Supreme Court Decision in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission:

“Arizona politicians sought to undermine the will of the People. They wanted to choose their voters rather than citizens being able to choose their representatives.”

“The Court also upheld the rights of voters to legislate directly from the ballot box. A different decision, one that favored self-interested politicians over the state’s citizens, would have been a devastating blow to democracy in Arizona. The IRC was created by the people, and given a responsibility to serve the people’s best interests regardless of which political party may control government when redistricting occurs. Today’s decision strengthens the foundation that our state was built on.”

Statement by AZAN Executive Director Sam Wercinski on Supreme Court Decision Denying Certiorari in Kobach v. U.S. Election Assistance Commission:

“The Supreme Court, in denying this latest attempt by the Arizona Secretary of State to disenfranchise voters is more good news on the heels of the AZ IRC decision. Not only does this signal that states cannot impose barriers to register to vote that the EAC deems unnecessary, it also indicates the policy creating two classes of voters in Arizona may be unconstitutional.”

The Supreme Court, in the majority opinion, underscores the importance of voter-enacted efforts and democratic principles. From the opinion:

"Banning lawmaking by initiative to direct a State’s method of apportioning congressional districts would do more than stymie attempts to curb partisan gerrymander­ing, by which the majority in the legislature draws district lines to their party’s advantage. It would also cast doubt on numerous other election laws adopted by the initiative method of legislating." (p. 4)

"Aimed at “ending the practice of gerrymandering and improving voter and candidate participation in elections,” App. 50, Proposition 106 amended the Arizona Constitu­tion to remove congressional redistricting authority from the state legislature, lodging that authority, instead, in anew entity, the AIRC." (p. 6)

"The dominant purpose of the Elections Clause, the historical record bears out, was to empower Congress to override state election rules, not to restrict the way States enact legislation." (p. 29)

"Both parts of the Elections Clause are in line with the fundamental premise that all political power flows from the people." (p. 39)

"The people of Arizona turned to the initiative to curb the practice of gerrymandering and, thereby, to ensure that Members of Congress would have “an habitual recollection of their dependence on the people.” The Federalist No. 57, at 350 (J. Madison). In so acting, Arizona voters sought to restore “the core principle of republican government,” namely, “that the voters should choose their representa­tives, not the other way around.” Berman, Managing Gerrymandering, 83 Texas L. Rev. 781 (2005). The Elec­tions Clause does not hinder that endeavor." (p. 39)

AZAN Media Advisory: Experts Available to Discuss Supreme Court Case Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission

PDF: Supreme Court Opinion, Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, June 29, 2015

PDF: AZAN Amicus Brief, January 23, 2015