US Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Challenge Brought by Arent Fox to Arizona Legislative Redistricting
Washington, DC — On June 30, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear an important legislative redistricting case filed by Arizona voters challenging the constitutionality of unequally populated voting districts created by a state commission. Led by Appellate partner Thor Hearne, Arent Fox LLP filed the brief in Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission and is arguing that the five-member Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission is violating the constitutional principle of “one-person, one-vote.”
The decision to hear the case came a day after the Supreme Court ruled that voters could have congressional districts drawn by an independent commission instead of the state legislature. The Harris case will determine whether Arizona’s commission followed federal law when redrawing its legislative districts. Mr. Hearne is leading a team from Arent Fox that includes attorney Stephen S. Davis. A link to the brief can be found here.
“This case differs significantly from the previous redistricting case the Supreme Court decided,” said Mr. Hearne. “Although the Supreme Court held that states can delegate redistricting to non-legislative commissions, those commissions may not violate the ‘one person, one vote’ constitutional requirement when they draw district lines.”
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. But the Supreme Court previously declared the requirement that the Justice Department pre-approve a state’s legislative districts to be unconstitutional. As a result, the claim that unequally-populated districts were necessary to obtain the Justice Department’s favor is invalid.
"Since the Supreme Court has accepted jurisdiction of the case, it is expected to be fully briefed by early fall with oral argument set during the Supreme Court’s next term beginning this October," said Mr. Hearne. Arent Fox’s appellate litigation team was joined on the brief by David J. Cantelme, Michael T. Liburdi, Mark Braden, Jason Torchinsky, and Shawn Sheehy.
Arent Fox has one of the most experienced election law litigation practices in the country. Our attorneys have successfully represented candidates in matters that include ballot access, recounts, post-election litigation, and redistricting. Earlier this month, the firm successfully defended Missouri's Right to Farm Amendment before the Supreme Court of Missouri.