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Review of new Arizona election case narrowed

The Supreme Court on Thursday narrowed somewhat its plan to review the work of the independent Arizona agency that drew new election districts for the state legislature after the latest census.  In a new order, the Court said it would not be ruling on a complaint that the agency wrongly created districts to give Hispanic voters more political power.

On Tuesday, the Court accepted an appeal in Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, without limiting the questions at issue.  Thursday’s order drops off the third question that the challenging voters had raised.

Question 3 in the appeal had asked the Court to rule that it is unconstitutional to draw new redistricting maps with the aim of creating districts in which Hispanics would have greater electoral influence.  The claim was that nearly 71,000 voters had been placed in larger population districts where whites and Republicans were more numerous to enhance the potential for Hispanics in other, lower-population districts to vote for Democratic candidates.  There is almost a nine-percent difference in population size between the two kinds of districts, according to the challengers.

With Thursday’s order, the review of the case in the Court’s next Term will be confined to two issues, paraphrased as follows:

** Does the desire to give one party an election advantage justify sharp deviations from the principle of population equality among districts, in violation of the one-person, one-vote principle?

** Does the desire to gain approval by the U.S. Department of Justice Department for new districting maps justify such deviations in population equality, especially since Department approval is no longer a requirement?

The case is likely to come up for a hearing in December or January.


Recommended Citation: Lyle Denniston, Review of new Arizona election case narrowed, SCOTUSblog (Jul. 2, 2015, 1:44 PM),