Common Cause Defends Arizona’s Independent Redistricting Commission in Supreme Court

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  • Dan Vicuna

Common Cause and Common Cause Illinois filed two amici briefs urging the Supreme Court on Friday to recognize the right of citizens of each state to shape laws that curtail political and incumbent gerrymandering.  Common Cause has led and supported redistricting reform efforts for several decades in the states including Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, and Utah.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case of Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission brought by the Arizona Legislature to challenge the right of the citizens of Arizona to adopt laws that removed the legislature from the district-drawing process.  Oral arguments for the case are scheduled for March 2, 2015.

Joining the Campaign Legal Center and other national groups, Common Cause filed an amicus brief to highlight the pervasive problem of partisan and incumbent gerrymandering throughout the country.  The brief urges the justices not to undermine the rights of citizens in states to address political gerrymandering by taking redistricting power away from the legislature.

“In state after state, from California to Florida, the people have changed their constitutions and crafted new laws to address the age old problem of gerrymandering,” said Kathay Feng, Common Cause’s National Redistricting Director. “The Arizona Legislature’s lawsuit is just an effort to get the foxes back in the henhouse.  Common Cause stands with the people of the States to create a more fair and transparent congressional district-drawing process.”

Joining former Governor Jim Edgar and other Illinois leaders and organizations, Common Cause Illinois also filed an amicus brief to protect Illinois voters’ constitutionally protected right to create a redistricting process that reflects the will of the people. 

“Illinois stands with Arizona in defending the people’s right to choose their own representatives,” said Rey Lopez-Calderon, executive director of Common Cause Illinois. “The Founders never intended for legislators to rig the system to pick the winners of every election. That’s why states have exercised their right to shake things up in places like Arizona and California when the map-drawers abuse their power. Illinoisans cherish and reserve our right to do the same.”

To read the national brief on partisan gerrymandering, click here.  Attorneys at Jenner & Block LLP and Campaign Legal Center serve as lead counsel for the amici group.

To read the Illinois amicus brief, click here.  Attorneys at Sidley Austin LLP serve as lead counsel for the amici group.