ASU law professor Paul Bender, who applied for the independent chair position on the Independent Redistricting Commission but didn't win the spot, turns to the Arizona Republic to lay down the fundamental issue at stake in today's Arizona Supreme Court hearing on the removal of chair Colleen Mathis:
The primary purpose of the 2000 amendment was unquestionably to preclude the Legislature, the governor, and partisan politics generally, from making or influencing redistricting decisions. What then is the basis for the governor's and the Senate's heavy-handed intrusion into the process?
They purport to rely on a provision of the amendment providing that a commission member may be removed by the governor, with the concurrence of two-thirds of the Senate, for "substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office, or inability to discharge the duties of office."
Those are, on their face, quite strict limits on the governor's removal power. The question is whether the Supreme Court will enforce these strict limits or permit the governor and Senate to force members of the commission to choose between complying with their wishes and being removed.
The question, I think, answers itself. The commission cannot possibly be free to redistrict independently, as the voters intended, if the governor and the Senate can remove commissioners simply because they have enough votes to do so.
More on the legal fight in this week's TW.