High Court upholds independent redistricting commissions

In a 5-4 decision on Monday, the Supreme Court upheld Arizona’s congressional districts drawn up by independent redistricting commissions as constitutional.

The decision rejects a challenge by Republican lawmakers and preserves such independent redistricting commissions that are used in 13 states, including California which has the largest congressional districts in the country.

The commission was first introduced in Arizona in 2000 to promote competition and ensure that no district was a lock for a particular politician or party.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the opinion of the court.

“Arizona voters sought to restore the core principle that the voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around,” she said.

Justice John Roberts wrote the dissent for himself and three of the other conservative members of the Court, justices Thomas, Alito and Scalia.

In his dissent, Roberts accuses the majority on the Court of supporting a work-around of the Constitution.

“The court’s position has no basis in the text, structure, or history of the Constitution, and it contradicts precedents from both Congress and this court,” Roberts said.

Section 4 of the Constitution’s Election Clause gives legislatures the power to create electoral districts.

However, those 13 states that now use independent commissions are trying to reign in the power of the legislatures, which have been found to engage in gerrymandering in some cases.

Gerrymandering is a practice where a legislature will draw a small or oddly shaped district so that it favors a particular party.

The Republican Party, which was against the Supreme Court’s decision to check gerrymandering, used the tactic to great affect in the 2012 federal election.

In 2012, the GOP won a 33-seat majority in the House, even though GOP candidates as a group got 1.4 million fewer votes than the Democrats they ran against.

Check out the image below to see why gerrymandering can be used to manipulate election results.




[The Associated Press][Mother Jones]