Arizona Supreme Court Upholds Legislative Districting Plan

This just in: The Arizona Supreme Court has upheld the state's legislative districting plan, nearly seven years after it was initially adopted.

A group of left-leaning advocates, including Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, State Representative Pete Rios and the Hispanic Bar Association Los Abogados, had originally challenged the plan in Maricopa County Superior Court. Their suit argued that the commission failed its mandate by not creating enough "competitive" districts and also that it failed to advertise the plan properly.

The suit has been on a long and winding road: Wilcox and Company won a November 2003 bench trial in Maricopa County, only to be reversed by the appellate court. But when the appellate judges sent the decision back to the county level, Wilcox's group prevailed once more -- sending the case to the appeals court for a second time. The appeals court again reversed the decision. That's what led to the lefties appealing to the Arizona Supreme Court.

But in a 3-2 decision, the Supremes found that the public notice was adequate and that the commission considered the competitiveness issue. That, the court said, was good enough.

"Minutes from the June 2002 meetings indicates that the Commission discussed ways to increase the competitiveness of each legislative district," Chief Justice Ruth McGregor wrote. "The record is sufficient to establish that the Commission followed the mandatory constitutional procedure by attempting to accomodate the competitiveness goal, while taking into account whether greater competitiveness would cause significant detriment to the other goals."

Sounds good to us. Although we do have to question why it took so freakin' long to get to this point. As Justice Andrew Hurwitz noted in his partial concurrence, "Only one cycle of legislative elections remains under the plan now at issue. As a practical matter, it makes no sense to require a lame-duck Commission to begin the process anew for only one set of elections."

That's what happens, we guess, when you get two superior court decisions, two appeals court reviews, and then finally a Supreme Court hearing. Suffice to say we don't even care who won at this point; we're just glad it's over.

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Sarah Fenske
Contact: Sarah Fenske