On June 29, 2015, the Supreme Court affirmed that the voices of regular Americans matter most – and upheld the people’s power to take redistricting out of the smoky backrooms of state legislatures and create a system that is transparent and public for drawing political maps.
In Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, the Arizona Legislature sued the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, which voters created in 2000; the legislature claimed that the U.S. Constitution gives state legislatures a monopoly over drawing congressional maps. A ruling in favor of the legislature could have threatened 16 states with alternative redistricting systems and killed reform efforts in many more.
Common Cause collaborated with the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission to mobilize an amazingly diverse and bipartisan group of organizations and individuals to defend open and unbiased redistricting processes. Those efforts paid off. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court affirmed that citizens can use direct democracy to take the foxes out of the henhouse.
This is a major victory for voters, and we’ll be continuing our work across the country to end political gerrymandering through the creation of citizen-driven commissions like the one in Arizona.
Common Cause stood with Arizona voters on Monday, March 2, 2015 in the Supreme Court of the United States to support fair representation and oppose gerrymandering. In 2000, Common Cause led the fight for Prop 106, a ballot initiative that created the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC). After decades in which Arizona state legislators manipulated their districts and congressional boundaries for partisan gain, voters had had enough.
AIRC draws congressional and state legislative districts after each census. It consists of two Republicans, two Democrats, and one independent who are not elected officials. They draw districts in a transparent process that prioritizes compactness, keeping communities together, and competitiveness and avoids the partisan games politicians played when they drew lines.
In 2012, Arizona state legislators filed a federal court challenge to the AIRC’s right to draw congressional districts. The legislators argue that the U.S. Constitution only allowed state legislatures and not citizen commissions or any other entity to draw districts.
Common Cause worked closely with the Arizona IRC to organize amicus briefs supporting their right to draw congressional districts that reflect the will of the people. Common Cause also signed an amicus brief with other national voting rights organizations and Common Cause Illinois signed an amicus brief with Illinois reformers to highlight the problem of gerrymandering in the states and the importance of defending the right of people to have a voice in shaping elections.