Case Examines Redistricting In Arizona: In Favor Of Democrats Or Inclusive Of Minorities?

July 09, 2013

The decision last month by the United States Supreme Court on the Voting Rights Act could impact a bid by Republicans here in Arizona to throw out the map of legislative districts adopted by the Independent Redistricting Commission.

The challengers maintain the panel created districts of unequal population to give Democrats a better chance of being elected. Panel members admit there are difference in population but say that was done to make sure the districts would clear the Justice Department mandate not to dilute minority voting. Commission attorney Joe Kanefield says it shouldn't matter that part of the Voting Rights act was ruled out.

“So compliance with Section 5 was certainly a legitimate goal for the commission,” Kanefield said. “The commission was successful in achieving preclearance from the Department of Justice. And that there’s no reason why that would change, even in light of the United States Supreme Court decision.”

But, the judges hearing the case in federal court want to know whether voiding the section of the Voting Rights Act means the case before them should not even be in federal court. Attorney David Cantelme, representing the GOP, says he'll fight any effort to dismiss the case, which was heard in March.

“We are here to vindicate federal rights in federal court in a case that’s been tried,” Cantelme said.

No ruling is expected in the case until at least mid-August.