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Jan Baran Discusses Supreme Court’s Decision on Arizona Redistricting
Jan Witold Baran, co-chair of Wiley Rein’s Election Law & Government Ethics Practice, was a featured guest July 1 on NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show, discussing the Supreme Court’s ruling that Arizona’s use of an independent commission to draw congressional districts was constitutional, and the impact this decision has on drawing voting lines nationwide.
Mr. Baran said that the decision is surprising because “the Constitution does say, literally, that it’s ‘the legislature’ that has to be involved in redistricting.” Mr. Baran added, “But on the other hand…it preserves the status quo. It doesn’t change any of the independent commissions in Arizona or in any of the other states and whatever impetus there has been to make these types of commissions in other jurisdictions, well, that can continue.”
Mr. Baran noted two items discussed in Justice Ginsburg’s opinion for the majority in this case: “One was that the court in this 50-year period when it started meddling with redistricting had concluded that partisan gerrymandering could violate the Constitution. But they couldn’t explain what partisan gerrymandering was and what the criteria was. So that’s one reason, I think, that they’ve…upheld these commissions because we’ll let the commissions figure that out…And then the other thing that Justice Ginsburg said, which I thought was quite remarkable, is that…we just have all this litigation about redistricting. We keep getting these cases all the time. And of course that’s the point that Supreme Court justices made for 170 years. We don’t want to get into this because it’s just a briar patch.”
To listen to a recording of the program, click here.