How could Supreme Court ruling on gerrymandering impact Arizona?
PHOENIX – In one of the most closely watched cases of the session, the United States Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that drawing electoral districts for partisan gain – a controversial practice known gerrymandering — wasn’t a federal issue.
Critics of the decision were concerned it could embolden political line-drawing for partisan gain when state lawmakers undertake the next round of redistricting.
Could that be an issue in Arizona, a state that’s been under a Republican-controlled Legislature and governorship?
“Oddly enough, as important as the Supreme Court ruling is, this means nothing for Arizona,” political analyst Emily Ryan of Phoenix’s Copper State Consulting Group told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday.
“Because back in around 2000, Arizona took the power of drawing the district map away from the state Legislature.”
Instead, Arizona’s congressional and state legislative districts are drawn by a five-member commission established under a voter-approved ballot measure.
The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission is made up of two Republicans, two Democrats and one independent member who is selected by the other four and serves as the panel’s chair.
Legislative leaders from each party select their two commissioners from a list of 25 nominees (10 from each party and five independents) submitted by the state panel that handles appeals court nominees.
According to the commission’s website, its mission is to draw boundaries roughly equal in population reflecting the concept of “one person, one vote.” It also takes into account district shape, geographical features, respect for communities of interest and potential competitiveness.
That competitiveness was reflected in the 2018 election, when Arizona Democrats were able to win a 5-4 advantage in the U.S. House while the GOP maintained control of both state houses and saw the re-election of Republican Gov. Doug Ducey.
Districts will be redrawn again after the 2020 census, which will potentially result in Arizona gaining a 10th representative in the U.S. House.
“With this census round we will be redistricting for that next election that will follow that, but this ruling should have no impact on that,” Ryan said.
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ashley Flood and The Associated Press contributed to this report.