• Redistricting: Advocates for redistricting reform scored a crucial victory Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Arizona’s Independent Redistricting Commission. Passed by voters in 2000 in an effort to remove legislators from the redistricting process, the commission was imperiled by the GOP’s rabid desire to abolish it. Republicans tried everything the could over the last few years to undermine the panel (even impeaching its leader, a move later undone by the courts) so that they could draw that state’s maps for themselves—exactly what voters did not want them doing. Fortunately, it’s not to be.
At issue in this case was the meaning of an important clause in Article I of the constitution that governs the rules regarding congressional elections. It states the following:
The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.
Republican state legislators, who were the plaintiffs in this case, contended that the word “legislature” means the literal representative legislature, which would preclude the voters themselves from directly instituting rules that would determine the electoral rules. Legal scholars were divided over the issue, but some of them provided very compelling reasons to agree with the defendants, which was the commission itself.
These observers argued that the concept of the legislature also encompasses the electorate, saying the term does not refer to a specific representative body but rather to those who are empowered to make laws. In a state that permits citizens to put forth ballot initiative like Arizona, this means the voters themselves, and the Supreme Court agreed with this interpretation….