Arizona Redistricting Cases: the 1990s

Arizonans for Fair Representation v. Symington828 F. Supp. 684 (D. Ariz. 1992)

 In February 1992, Plaintiffs, Arizonans for Fair Representation, brought suit requesting the U.S. District Court to take action to break the legislative impasse on congressional redistricting. The Arizona Senate (controlled by Democrats) and the Arizona House (controlled by Republicans) had each developed congressional redistricting plans, but unlike the state legislative redistricting plan, no agreement could be reached on a compromise plan. Given the impasse, the Court determined that the plan selected must meet three basic criteria: the Constitution, the Voting Rights Act, and "neutral principles of redistricting." The Court further described the neutral criteria as preserving communities of interest, providing compact and contiguous districts, and protection of incumbents. 828 F. Supp. at 687. The three-judge panel rejected the plans proposed by the Senate and the House, instead drafting a Court plan based on the so-called "Indian Compromise Plan," which had been submitted by intervenor Indian tribes. The Court found that its plan was more compact, better preserved communities of interest, and avoided "the unnecessary or invidious outdistricting of incumbents." 828 F. Supp. at 692. The Court also found that there was insufficient evidence presented by the Senate to conclude that there was polarized voting in Arizona warranting remedial action under the Voting Rights Act. The Court ordered its congressional plan to be implemented for the impending 1992 election and subsequent elections through 2000, determining that as a court ordered plan, preclearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act was not necessary. Defendant, Arizona State Senate, and Intervenor, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, filed separate appeals.

Arizona State Senate v. Arizonans for Fair Representation507 U.S. 980 (1993) (mem.)

 The Arizona State Senate appealed the decision in Arizonans for Fair Representation v. Symington, 828 F. Supp. 684 (D. Ariz. 1992) on three substantive grounds. First, the Senate claimed in its appellants' brief that the U.S. District Court plan caused a retrogression of minority voting strength because Arizona had gained a congressional seat (from five to six) and gained in minority population, but the Court created only one majority-minority district when it could have created two. Second, the Senate argued that the lower court erred in finding that there was insufficient evidence of polarized voting and, therefore, no remedial action was required under the Voting Rights Act. Finally, the Senate argued that the District Court failed to comply with the requirements of Sections 2 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act by improperly considering "neutral" redistricting factors over minority voting rights. During the pendency of the appeal, Republicans gained the majority in the Senate and had the appeal dismissed.

Hispanic Chamber of Commerce v. Arizonans for Fair Representation507 U.S. 981(1993) (mem.)

Intervenors, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, appealed Arizonans for Fair Representation v. Symington, 828 F. Supp. 684 (D. Ariz. 1992) on several grounds. The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce claimed in its appellants' brief that the District Court erred in giving "good government" criteria primacy over minority voting rights. The Hispanic Chamber also argued that the lower court should have found on the evidence that racially polarized voting does exist in Arizona and that the Court erred in ordering its plan into effect until 2000 without preclearance under the Voting Rights Act. The lower court judgment was summarily affirmed by the United States Supreme Court.

Arizonans for Fair Representation, Inc. v. Symington, No. CIV 92-256-PHX-SMM,1993 WL 375329 (D. Ariz. June 19, 1992)

In February 1992, Plaintiffs, former Republican legislators, filed an action requesting that the U.S. District Court redistrict Arizona's state legislative districts, the Arizona Legislature having failed to enact any redistricting legislation at the time the action was commenced. On February 20, 1992, the Legislature finally passed a state legislative redistricting plan (H.B. 2002) and the Court stayed further action while the plan was submitted to the Department of Justice for Section 5 preclearance under the Voting Rights Act. On June 10, 1992, the Department of Justice indicated that it objected to a portion of H.B. 2002 because it split a concentration of Hispanic voters into three districts rather than two in the southeastern part of the State. On June 16, 1992, the Legislature passed a bill (S.B. 1360) designed to satisfy Justice Department objections. Three days later, the Court ordered that S.B. 1360 be implemented as an interim plan for the 1992 State Legislature elections, finding that the upcoming elections were imminent and that an emergency existed. The Court retained jurisdiction and ordered that S.B. 1360 be submitted for preclearance. The Department of Justice again refused to preclear the Legislature's redistricting plan (Letter of Objection, August 12, 1992), effectively mandating for the first time the creation of an additional majority-minority district (primarily Hispanic) in southeastern Arizona. On December 17, 1993, the Legislature passed a third state legislative plan, including the majority-minority district required by the Justice Department, which was finally precleared on February 8, 1994. Intervenors, Arizona Hispanic Community Forum, appealed.

Arizona Hispanic Community Forum v. Symington506 U.S. 969 (1992) (mem.)

The Hispanic Community Forum appealed the decision of the U.S. District Court that allowed the use of an unprecleared interim state legislative plan due to exigent circumstances (only fifteen days prior to the candidate nomination filing deadline). The U.S. Supreme Court summarily affirmed the lower court ruling.

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