US Supreme Court upholds Arizona legislative districts
Apr 21, 2016 12:30 AM EDT
On Wednesday, the US Supreme Court unanimously upheld Arizona's state legislative districts drawn by an independent commission, rebuffing claims by Republican voters that a minor variation in population favors Democrats and violates that US constitution.
The decision made by the top court came in a case also known as Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. It was conceived with a group of Maricopa County voters who said that disparities in population among the districts are against the 'one person, one vote' standard of the US Constitution. The court upheld the ruling made by the lower court that while there were indeed disparities in population, they were done mainly to provide minority groups the equality called for in the Voting Rights Act, reports Arizona Public Media.
The case centers on the state legislative districts drawn for the 2012 election based on 2010 census numbers. In drawing out the state legislative districts, the independent commission in Arizona carries out a purpose that in most other states are handled by state lawmakers. Reuters reported that the court said in its 8-0 ruling that the commission that draws legislative boundaries did not violate the Constitution's principle of one person, one vote.
Justice Stephen Breyer, who is under Supreme Court precedent, observed that voters' population districts need not be necessarily equal. He said that as long as the deviation between the districts doesn't go beyond 10 percent, the districts are presumed valid. According to The Wall Street Journal, the deviation of the Arizona map was only 8.8 percent. He also said that the numbers between district populations were not significant enough to be legally troubling.
In a 2014 ruling, a federal court in Arizona upheld the districts, saying the commission had made a 'good faith' attempt to comply with the Voting Rights Act. The Republican voters who brought the case then submitted an appeal to the US Supreme Court.