If there’s one thing Arizona Republicans LOVE to hate, it’s their state’s Independent Redistricting Commission. After years of trying to control it and impeach its members and even have it declared unconstitutional, they’re attacking it it yet again. This time, they’re attempting to undermine both the commission’s independent nature and bring both it and the maps it draws under the legislature’s control.
A little background (okay, a LOT of background):
Arizona’s Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) was created in 2000 via a voter-initiated ballot measure that removed the drawing of state legislative and congressional district maps from lawmakers’ hands and placed it with two Republican commissioners and two Democratic commissioners; these four then select a fifth independent member to serve as IRC chair. None of the members are directly appointed by the legislature.
In 2011, the IRC drew congressional maps that made Republican heads explode because they failed to give their party a sufficient advantage—which of course the Arizona GOP believes it’s entitled to, just because. So GOP Gov. Janet Brewer promptly fired the head of the IRC for this affront.
(Rumor has it that Brewer was spurred on by Rep. Ben Quayle’s mom, wife of the former vice president, who purportedly called Brewer to yell at her because the map would force her son, then-Rep. Ben Quayle, into a primary with another incumbent.)
The Arizona Supreme Court intervened and found that Brewer had insufficient reason to remove the head of the commission and reinstated her. The “offending” maps were then approved by the IRC and went into effect for the 2012 elections. (Baby Quayle lost his primary.)
But Arizona’s Republicans weren’t done messing with the IRC. If we can’t control it, they decided, let’s get rid of it. So the legislature’s GOP majority sued to have the IRC declared unconstitutional, saying it unlawfully took power over redistricting away from the lawmakers themselves. The U.S. Supreme Court disagreed, and Arizona Republicans were forced to reconcile themselves to the IRC’s existence, at least for a time. That isn’t to say they gave up, of course: Arizona Republicans then tried to get the maps themselves declared unconstitutional, but that didn’t go their way, either.
Now Republican lawmakers are pushing a measure that would essentially blow up the IRC and its bipartisan redistricting work.
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