IRC Attorneys Challenge Brewer in Court, While Brewer Tries To Silence Mathis' Lawyer

Laura Hogan traveled all the way from Vail to Marana on the evening of Friday, Nov. 4, to let the Independent Redistricting Commission know she was "very upset" by the removal of IRC chair Colleen Mathis by Gov. Jan Brewer last week.

Republican lawmakers provided Brewer with the two-thirds supermajority necessary to dispatch Mathis.

“It was a kangaroo court,” said Hogan, who has lived in Arizona for most of her 60 years and been a Democrat for most of that time. “There weren’t even specific charges. I don’t understand it.”

Hogan’s comments at the IRC meeting got a rousing round of applause from the audience members who agreed with her—which appeared to be the majority, based on the testimony before the only IRC member in attendance, Republican Rick Stertz.

A minority of the speakers, however, were on the other side, praising Gov. Brewer for the unprecedented action of removing Mathis from her chairmanship after charging that the independent chairwoman of the commission was guilty of “gross misconduct in office” and “substantial neglect of duty.”

Many of them complained that the maps simply weren’t constitutional, echoing the claims made by Brewer and Republican lawmakers.

But when it comes to constitutionality of district maps, it doesn’t really matter what speakers at a redistricting hearing say. It doesn’t matter what the governor says, or what state lawmakers say, or what bloggers say, or what journalists say.

The only voice that matters in determining the constitutionality of district maps are the courts.

Or at least that’s what Paul Charlton, the attorney hired by the IRC to defend Mathis, told The Range when we spoke to him the other day.

Charlton pointed out that the draft maps weren’t even finished, so any challenge to them was premature at this time. But more importantly, he said: “Once those lines are final, the way to challenge those lines is in court, not in a legislative body. That is the very reason we have an Independent Redistricting Commission, to take that authority away from the Legislature.”

Of course, Brewer doesn’t want Paul Charlton to argue those points in court. That’s why she’s had staff tell Independent Redistricting Commission Executive Director Ray Bladine that since Mathis has been removed from the commission, the state will not pay any of Charlton’s bills.