By Jack Fitzpatrick
After Monday’s Supreme Court rulings, it remains legally possible for advocates to push for more state commissions to take redistricting powers out of the hands of partisan legislators. But it also remains very difficult—both for good-government advocates and for Democrats seeking to repair their structural disadvantage in the House of Representatives.
The Court decided a major case in favor of Arizona’s independent redistricting commission, which Arizona voters created via ballot measure in 2000, rejecting Republican state legislators’ argument that the Constitution gives federal redistricting authority solely to state legislatures. (The Constitution does specifically say “legislature,” but the Court ruled 5-4 that it includes voters exercising their own lawmaking power via direct democracy.)
The continued viability of redistricting commissions could be especially important for Democrats: Republicans control 68 of the 98 partisan state legislative chambers, which would give the GOP a large degree of control over the next round of congressional redistricting. Many of those majorities are entrenched thanks to district lines they drew themselves. Independent commissions are one way Democrats could get more favorable congressional lines drawn next decade.
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June 29, 2015