In our celebrations over the Supreme Court rulings last week, let us not overlook other rulings that have a PROFOUND impact on our country and our rights as citizens and voters.
Another HUGE victory today:
In the year 2000, voters in Arizona had been fed up with the gerrymandering of congressional districts at the hands of the Arizona legislature. They circulated a petition to have a referendum on a constitutional amendment that would create an INDEPENDENT and NONPARTISAN commission to draw congressional district boundaries. That referendum passed!
The commission created nine congressional districts in Arizona using the criteria that "competitive districts be favored". The commission set up FOUR districts that were safely Republican, TWO districts that were safely Democrat, and THREE districts that were considered "toss-ups"... a relatively fair representation given Arizona's political makeup.
The problem was, Democrats won FIVE of the nine seats in 2012 (the two safe seats and all three "toss-up" seats).
This made the GOP-led legislature mad. They had been fine with the independent commission when the Republicans were winning more seats. However, when the Democrats had a good year in 2012, they decided to try to get rid of the independent commission and take the power to draw districts back for themselves.
Never mind that this commission had been set up by a direct vote from the people in a Constitutional amendment process. That didn't matter. (There is some irony in the fact that these are many of the same people who cried foul last Friday and said that the "people voted" to ban marriage equality and nothing should override the will of the people.)
So the Arizona Legislature sued the independent commission set up BY THE PEOPLE, claiming that it was the legislature's right to draw the district lines regardless of what the people wanted.
Folks... gerrymandering is REAL and its a REAL problem in this country. Elected officials are essentially able to draw their own districts and decide who they want voting for them.
When you complain about partisanship in the country, about how much our elected leaders are fighting each other and about how very little is getting done... this is the reason.
When you want to know what has happened to this country to make all of the politicians in our state capitals and in Washington so EXTREMIST.... this is the reason.
Fortunately, the Supreme Court told the Arizona Legislature where they could stick it today and upheld the independent commission in Arizona. That keeps places like Arizona and California, who also has an independent commission, safer from gerrymandering. But the vast majority of states in the country are gerrymandered to hell. North Carolina is the most gerrymandered state in the country and our congressional district map looks like Picasso got drunk and high and tried to design a stained glass window. Thats why only 48%% of North Carolinians vote for a Republican for Congress and yet somehow 77% of our delegation is Republican. Talk about "fuzzy math".
We MUST stop gerrymandering in the country. Politicians should not be driving the ship; people should be.
Today's decision is a reason to celebrate. And Justice Ginsburg said it best:
"The people of Arizona turned to the initiative to curb the practice of gerrymandering and, thereby, to ensure that Members of Congress would have 'an habitual recollection of their dependence on the people.'” In so acting, Arizona voters sought to restore 'the core principle of republican government,' namely, 'that the voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around.'”