Thursday, October 27, 2011

Brewer Takes Aim at Indepedent Redistricting Commission

Posted By on Thu, Oct 27, 2011 at 11:58 AM

Gov. Jan Brewer has put the Independent Redistricting Commission on notice:

Gov. Jan Brewer on Wednesday turned up the heat on the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, giving the five commissioners a Monday deadline to respond to allegations of "substantial neglect of duty and gross misconduct in office."

Failure to do so, she said, would lead her to conclude the commissioners are guilty of the allegations. But answers would help her determine whether she should initiate proceedings to remove one or more of the commissioners, something the Arizona Constitution empowers her to do.

Just last week, as we reported in The Skinny, state Sen. Frank Antenori was downplaying the likelihood that Brewer and Republican lawmakers would push for removal of IRC chairwoman Colleen Mathis or other members of the commission.

This is a high-stakes play by Brewer. Should she call a special session by the Legislature, it's unclear how the removal process would work. Would IRC members be afforded due process and an actual trial, where they could call witnesses of their own? Or would lawmakers simply come into session and vote to remove them in a kangaroo court? And if members are removed, how are replacements found? The Arizona Constitution calls for any new members to come from the original pool of applicants, although convincing any new members to stop into the process this late—especially after the way that the GOP has gone after the current IRC members—could prove challenging.

Time is also running out for these maps to be completed, since they still need approval from the U.S. Justice Department before the 2012 election season can begin. Does the process start all over, or does the GOP have some sort of maps that they'd like to just thrust onto the IRC for rubber-stamping?

Or will the courts just end up drawing the districts? And if so, will GOP lawmakers who now are looking at safe districts go along with impeaching IRC members and rolling the dice that federal judges will give them safe districts over the next 10 years?

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