Sunday, September 04, 2011

I'm beginning to believe that Arizona's Republican lawmakers really *don't* understand the rule of law...

For the longest time, I thought that the lies and disinformation spouted by the Rs concerning AIRC were just that, lies and disinformation, and calculated to both rouse their base and to inoculate themselves from blame for not properly preparing for the redistricting process.


I thought that while many members of their base were ignorant of the provisions in the AZ Constitution (and that's not a partisan shot - most people are unfamiliar with most of the specifics in the state's constitution), the electeds spouting off actually knew the truth, they just chose to ignore it for political purposes.


Turns out I may have been in error.

From the Facebook page of Rep. Terri Proud (R-LD26) -




















Check out the comment from Rep. Brenda Barton (R-LD5) regarding the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (highlighted in yellow above) -
Commissioner Herrera is not qualified to sit on this Board. This IRC is a violation of the Arizona Constitution in which we are guaranteed a '..republican form of government'

Ummm....yeah.



From the Article Four, Part Two, Section One of the Arizona *Constitution* -
(3) By February 28 of each year that ends in one, an independent redistricting commission shall be established to provide for the redistricting of congressional and state legislative districts. The independent redistricting commission shall consist of five members. No more than two members of the independent redistricting commission shall be members of the same political party. Of the first four members appointed, no more than two shall reside in the same county. Each member shall be a registered Arizona voter who has been continuously registered with the same political party or registered as unaffiliated with a political party for three or more years immediately preceding appointment, who is committed to applying the provisions of this section in an honest, independent and impartial fashion and to upholding public confidence in the integrity of the redistricting process. Within the three years previous to appointment, members shall not have been appointed to, elected to, or a candidate for any other public office, including precinct committeeman or committeewoman but not including school board member or officer, and shall not have served as an officer of a political party, or served as a registered paid lobbyist or as an officer of a candidate's campaign committee.
(4) The commission on appellate court appointments shall nominate candidates for appointment to the independent redistricting commission, except that, if a politically balanced commission exists whose members are nominated by the commission on appellate court appointments and whose regular duties relate to the elective process, the commission on appellate court appointments may delegate to such existing commission (hereinafter called the commission on appellate court appointments' designee) the duty of nominating members for the independent redistricting commission, and all other duties assigned to the commission on appellate court appointments in this section.
(5) By January 8 of years ending in one, the commission on appellate court appointments or its designee shall establish a pool of persons who are willing to serve on and are qualified for appointment to the independent redistricting commission. The pool of candidates shall consist of twenty-five nominees, with ten nominees from each of the two largest political parties in Arizona based on party registration, and five who are not registered with either of the two largest political parties in Arizona.
(6) Appointments to the independent redistricting commission shall be made in the order set forth below. No later than January 31 of years ending in one, the highest ranking officer elected by the Arizona house of representatives shall make one appointment to the independent redistricting commission from the pool of nominees, followed by one appointment from the pool made in turn by each of the following: the minority party leader of the Arizona house of representatives, the highest ranking officer elected by the Arizona senate, and the minority party leader of the Arizona senate. Each such official shall have a seven-day period in which to make an appointment. Any official who fails to make an appointment within the specified time period will forfeit the appointment privilege. In the event that there are two or more minority parties within the house or the senate, the leader of the largest minority party by statewide party registration shall make the appointment.
(7) Any vacancy in the above four independent redistricting commission positions remaining as of March 1 of a year ending in one shall be filled from the pool of nominees by the commission on appellate court appointments or its designee. The appointing body shall strive for political balance and fairness.
(8) At a meeting called by the secretary of state, the four independent redistricting commission members shall select by majority vote from the nomination pool a fifth member who shall not be registered with any party already represented on the independent redistricting commission and who shall serve as chair. If the four commissioners fail to appoint a fifth member within fifteen days, the commission on appellate court appointments or its designee, striving for political balance and fairness, shall appoint a fifth member from the nomination pool, who shall serve as chair.
(9) The five commissioners shall then select by majority vote one of their members to serve as vice-chair.
(10) After having been served written notice and provided with an opportunity for a response, a member of the independent redistricting commission may be removed by the governor, with the concurrence of two-thirds of the senate, for substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office, or inability to discharge the duties of office.
(11) If a commissioner or chair does not complete the term of office for any reason, the commission on appellate court appointments or its designee shall nominate a pool of three candidates within the first thirty days after the vacancy occurs. The nominees shall be of the same political party or status as was the member who vacated the office at the time of his or her appointment, and the appointment other than the chair shall be made by the current holder of the office designated to make the original appointment. The appointment of a new chair shall be made by the remaining commissioners. If the appointment of a replacement commissioner or chair is not made within fourteen days following the presentation of the nominees, the commission on appellate court appointments or its designee shall make the appointment, striving for political balance and fairness. The newly appointed commissioner shall serve out the remainder of the original term.
(12) Three commissioners, including the chair or vice-chair, constitute a quorum. Three or more affirmative votes are required for any official action. Where a quorum is present, the independent redistricting commission shall conduct business in meetings open to the public, with 48 or more hours public notice provided.
(13) A commissioner, during the commissioner's term of office and for three years thereafter, shall be ineligible for Arizona public office or for registration as a paid lobbyist.
(14) The independent redistricting commission shall establish congressional and legislative districts. The commencement of the mapping process for both the congressional and legislative districts shall be the creation of districts of equal population in a grid-like pattern across the state. Adjustments to the grid shall then be made as necessary to accommodate the goals as set forth below:
A. Districts shall comply with the United States Constitution and the United States voting rights act;
B. Congressional districts shall have equal population to the extent practicable, and state legislative districts shall have equal population to the extent practicable;
C. Districts shall be geographically compact and contiguous to the extent practicable;
D. District boundaries shall respect communities of interest to the extent practicable;
E. To the extent practicable, district lines shall use visible geographic features, city, town and county boundaries, and undivided census tracts.
F. To the extent practicable, competitive districts should be favored where to do so would create no significant detriment to the other goals.
(15) Party registration and voting history data shall be excluded from the initial phase of the mapping process but may be used to test maps for compliance with the above goals. The places of residence of incumbents or candidates shall not be identified or considered.
(16) The independent redistricting commission shall advertise a draft map of congressional districts and a draft map of legislative districts to the public for comment, which comment shall be taken for at least thirty days. Either or both bodies of the legislature may act within this period to make recommendations to the independent redistricting commission by memorial or by minority report, which recommendations shall be considered by the independent redistricting commission. The independent redistricting commission shall then establish final district boundaries.
(17) The provisions regarding this section are self-executing. The independent redistricting commission shall certify to the secretary of state the establishment of congressional and legislative districts.
(18) Upon approval of this amendment, the department of administration or its successor shall make adequate office space available for the independent redistricting commission. The treasurer of the state shall make $6,000,000 available for the work of the independent redistricting commission pursuant to the year 2000 census. Unused monies shall be returned to the state's general fund. In years ending in eight or nine after the year 2001, the department of administration or its successor shall submit to the legislature a recommendation for an appropriation for adequate redistricting expenses and shall make available adequate office space for the operation of the independent redistricting commission. The legislature shall make the necessary appropriations by a majority vote.
(19) The independent redistricting commission, with fiscal oversight from the department of administration or its successor, shall have procurement and contracting authority and may hire staff and consultants for the purposes of this section, including legal representation.
(20) The independent redistricting commission shall have standing in legal actions regarding the redistricting plan and the adequacy of resources provided for the operation of the independent redistricting commission. The independent redistricting commission shall have sole authority to determine whether the Arizona attorney general or counsel hired or selected by the independent redistricting commission shall represent the people of Arizona in the legal defense of a redistricting plan. 
To Reps. Barton and Proud, and Sen. Antenori and the rest of the Republican legislators who have been attacking the AIRC:


I realize that Arizona prides itself on having "citizen legislators" and you and your colleagues certainly qualify as that.

However, that doesn't serve as an excuse for being "ignorant legislators."

There is more to being elected officials than pronouncing that anything you aren't pleased with as "illegal" or "unconstitutional."

The voters spoke clearly and spoke loudly in 2000 when they created the independent redistricting process.

They want a political process that is less about elected officials serving themselves and more about elected officials serving the public.

You may not agree with the will of the voters, but you freely chose to work for the voters and their will is the law of the land, and more specifically, that will and that law covers the way you and your colleagues obtain, perform, and retain your jobs.

And if you think that the independent redistricting process takes away too much of your fun, just wait until we take on ethics and corruption provisions.

3 comments:

Rep. Brenda Barton said...

Just some friendly notes to your blog re: my FB comments...

I invite you to read the *entire* state Constitution, especially those portions written at the time of statehood.

Just because an initiative has been entered into the Constitution by a popular vote does not mean that the said provision has been found Constitutional by the Courts.

Consider Clean Elections; approved by popular vote and parts of it now held Un-Constitutional by the Supreme Court.

As of this time, Arizona's IRC has not been challenged on constitutional grounds and, there is no ruling by the higher courts.

tmt0623 said...

huh? I'm a voter and I'll have you know Ms. Barto that my vote matters. Whose money are you going to use to challenge this voter init. from 2000?? Your own? Just wondering.

cpmaz said...

Representative Barton,

Thank you for writing.

Just a few friendly replies to your friendly notes.

1. I have read the entire state constitution, though I admit I am far from being an expert on it. I would point out, however, that I know enough to know that original language is no more valid than new language. If it were, we'd never be able to amend it.

2. Given that the language has been entered into the state constitution, it is, by definition, Constitutional, unless the US Supreme Court finds that a provision of the state constitution violates the US Constitution, the supreme law of the land.

While there are certain requirements that each Congressional district must adhere to (i.e. - population), it has been left up to each state to determine how they meet those requirements. As such, five states, including AZ, have created independent redistricting bodies.

If you want to be the one who puts your name on a lawsuit challenging the ability of the voters to determine how their representatives are elected, go for it.

I think you'll lose (both the lawsuit and your next election), but I could be wrong.

3. The fact that a law (such as Clean Elections) or constitutional amendment (such as the AIRC) is implemented by popular, rather than legislative, vote doesn't lower the threshold for overturning it on constitutional grounds. Either it's a good, well-written law or amendment, or it isn't.

Your opinion of the worthiness of any law or amendment, or for that matter, my opinion of the same law or amendment, is pretty much irrelevent in that regard.