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Ariz. State Legis. v. Ariz. Indep. Redistricting Comm'n - 135 S. Ct. 2652 (2015)


Trained on whether the plaintiff is a proper party to bring a particular lawsuit, standing is one element of the Constitution’s case-or-controversy limitation on federal judicial authority, expressed in U.S. Const. art. III. To qualify as a party with standing to litigate, the plaintiff must show, first and foremost, injury in the form of invasion of a legally protected interest that is concrete and particularized and actual or imminent. The plaintiff’s injury also must be fairly traceable to the challenged action and redressable by a favorable ruling.


Under Arizona's Constitution, the electorate shares lawmaking authority on equal footing with the Arizona Legislature. The voters may adopt laws and constitutional amendments by ballot initiative, and they may approve or disapprove, by referendum, measures passed by the Legislature. Ariz. Const., Art. IV, pt. 1, §1. “Any law which may be enacted by the Legislature . . . may be enacted by the people under the Initiative.” Art. XXII, §14.

In 2000, Arizona voters adopted Proposition 106, an initiative aimed at the problem of gerrymandering. Proposition 106 amended Arizona's Constitution, removing redistricting authority from the Arizona Legislature and vesting it in an independent commission, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC). After the 2010 census, as after the 2000 census, the AIRC adopted redistricting maps for congressional as well as state legislative districts. The Arizona Legislature challenged the map the Commission adopted in 2012 for congressional districts, arguing that the AIRC and its map violated the “Elections Clause” of the U.S. Constitution, which provides: “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations.” Because “Legislature” means the State's representative assembly, the Arizona Legislature contended, the Clause precludes resort to an independent commission, created by initiative, to accomplish redistricting. A three-judge District Court held that the Arizona Legislature had standing to sue, but rejected its complaint on the merits.


Did the Arizona legislature have standing to challenge state constitutional provision giving unelected commission legislative redistricting authority?




The Arizona Legislature had standing to challenge Arizona Proposition 106, which amended Ariz. Const. art. IV, pt. 2, § 1 to remove redistricting authority from the Legislature and vest it in the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC). Redistricting was a legislative function, and there was no constitutional barrier to Arizona's use of the initiative form of lawmaking. 2 U.S.C.S. § 2a(c) permitted use of the AIRC to adopt Arizona's congressional districts, as the state had redistricted in the manner provided by state law. The Elections Clause, U.S. Const. art. I, § 4, cl. 1, permitted the people of Arizona to provide for redistricting by an independent commission. Specification in the Clause of “the Legislature” did not mean that only the state's representative body could prescribe regulations for redistricting.

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