The U.S. Supreme Court avoided a congressional shake-up Monday morning, upholding the constitutionality of independent redistricting commissions rather than striking down the congressional maps in Arizona and possibly several other states.
The court ruled 5-4 in favor of Arizona's redistricting commission, rejecting an argument by the state's Republican legislators that the Constitution only gives the authority to draw legislative and congressional lines to state legislatures.
The Constitution's Election Clause says that state legislatures have authority to regulate elections. But the Court's opinion, written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, ruled that that applies as much to voters—who created the state's commission via a successful ballot measure—as it does to the state's elected lawmakers. The state's constitution, the Court cited, specifies that any legislative power belonging to the legislature also belongs to the people.
"Invoking the Elections Clause, the Arizona Legislature instituted this lawsuit to disempower the State's voters from serving as the legislative power for redistricting purposes," Ginsburg wrote. "But the Clause surely was not adopted to diminish a State's authority to determine its own lawmaking processes."