Supreme Court Backs Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission

Washington, DC – Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission was a big victory for citizen-led democracy, ruling that independent redistricting commissions set up by voters are constitutional. The decision maintains the Arizona system put in place in 2000 by voters through a ballot initiative, as well as California’s system, which was also put in place directly through the initiative process. 

“This is a tremendous victory for democracy,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters of the U.S. “Today’s decision reinforces a key principle in redistricting reform:  that voters should choose their representatives rather than letting politicians choose their voters. Drawing the boundaries of legislative districts is too important to leave to politicians,” she said. 

“This decision is all the more important because partisan gerrymandering has reached dangerous levels across the nation,” MacNamara said. “Its harmful effects are not hard to find: the practice undermines the concept of majority rule, reduces the competitiveness of elections, and contributes to the political polarization that feeds gridlock.”

“The Arizona legislature argued in this case that only they can conduct federal redistricting under the U.S. Constitution,” said MacNamara. “Today, the Court rejected that argument, reasoning that the initiative power of the people of Arizona was a valid exercise of legislative power.”

“With the Arizona opinion, independent redistricting commissions are reinforced as an important process by which the voters can protect themselves and their state from excessive partisan gerrymandering,” said MacNamara. “We will continue to work at the state and national levels to pursue reforms through legislative action, constitutional amendment or citizen initiative,” she said.

The League of Women Voters of the U.S. joined with other concerned organizations in an amicus brief in this case arguing that the Court had already ruled that excessive partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional. The Leagues of Women Voters of Arizona and Illinois also joined amicus briefs in this case.

“Today, the highest court in the nation strengthened the power of the people to protect themselves from excessive partisan influence and incumbency protection in redistricting,” concluded MacNamara. “This is a great for democracy and for those that believe in fair, effective representation for all.”

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Contact: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331, kceballos@lwv.org.

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