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    Partner Thor Hearne Argues Before US Supreme Court

    December 7, 2015

    Washington, DC – On Tuesday, December 8, Arent Fox partner Thor Hearne will appear before the US Supreme Court for oral argument in an important legislative redistricting case that Arent Fox filed on behalf of Arizona voters challenging the constitutionality of unequally populated voting districts created by a state commission. US Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. will be arguing in support of the state commission.
     
    Attorney Stephen Davis joined Mr. Hearne in filing briefs in Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission and are arguing the five-member Commission violated the Supreme Court’s ‘one-person, one-vote’ principle under the Fourteenth Amendment. This case will determine whether Arizona’s Independent Redistricting Commission (which was held by the Court last term to have constitutionally redistricted Arizona’s congressional districts) violated the Fourteenth Amendment by diluting millions of Arizonans’ votes when it redrew the state’s legislative districts. Links to both of Arent Fox’s brief and response brief can be found here and here.
     
    Of note, the Arizona Attorney General will also be arguing in support of the petitioners and representing the Arizona Secretary of State, who says the maps violated the one-person, one-vote principle.
     
    The Supreme Court dockets lists the following questions presented:

    • Does the desire to gain partisan advantage for one political party justify intentionally creating over-populated legislative districts that result in tens of thousands of individual voters being denied Equal Protection because their individual votes are devalued, violating the one-person, one-vote principle?
    • Does the desire to obtain favorable preclearance review by the Justice Department permit the creation of legislative districts that deviate from the one-person, one-vote principle? And, even if creating unequal districts to obtain preclearance approval was once justified, is this still a legitimate justification after Shelby County v. Holder, 133 S.Ct. 2612 (2013)?

    In Harris, the US District Court for the District of Arizona found the commission that redrew the Arizona State legislative districts was motivated by partisan interest to gain an advantage for one political party. Despite being a partisan gerrymander, a majority of two judges found the districts were nonetheless valid because the Commission said it drew unequally-populated districts in an effort to obtain Justice Department preclearance under the Voting Rights Act.
     
    For anyone who may be interested in attending the oral argument, directions to the Supreme Court can be found here. The Court convenes at 10:00a.