Posted by Patrick McWhortor on July 02, 2015 at 10:31 AM
Did the Supreme Court just endorse us?
We didn’t see it coming.
On Monday, the US Supreme Court issued an opinion that the people of Arizona have a right to determine how congressional district lines are drawn, and thus control the process by which they elect members of Congress.
Let’s be clear about what just happened here.
The Republican leadership of the Arizona Legislature just sued the People of Arizona in court to overturn their right to create an Independent Redistricting Commission. Thanks to the US Supreme Court, the People won.
Let me just state that one more time for emphasis: State legislators – who only hold their office because we the people elect them – actually sued us. Oh, and to add insult, they passed on the expenses for that lawsuit to those very same people – the taxpayers.
Yes, this is what extreme partisanship does to elected officials. When elected officials think that the rules and structures of government are theirs to control, when they consider themselves to be above democracy, they actually have the gall to take their own constituents to court.
But a majority of the Supreme Court just shut down this effort to overturn the will of the people. Justice Ginsburg, in her extremely thoroughly researched and well written opinion, grounded in prior case law, reaffirmed that “Arizona voters sought to restore the ‘core principle of republican government,’ namely ‘that the voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around.’”
What a novel concept. The people – you know, those people in the first three words of the preamble of the Constitution? – actually decided that they should create the rules and their elected representatives should follow them.
Well, this is exactly the same principle at the heart of election reform. Our next movement for reform.
Today, the same partisans who just sued their constituents get to write the rules and control the process for conducting elections. And go figure: just like they tried to do with redistricting, these partisans want to ensure that a tiny fraction of the public actively participates in elections to make it easier and safer to win and hold office.
That is why it is up to us – the People of Arizona – to get back to work again. It is up to The People to write the rules so that our elected representatives answer to us, not the other way around.
Our movement for election reform in 2016 is just another chapter in the story of the American people taking back their democracy from narrow special interests and extreme partisans. In Arizona, we did it in 2000 when we created the Independent Redistricting Commission. We will do it again in 2016 with election reform.
This week’s Supreme Court opinion provides us a clarion call for reform. It reminds us that we have the right to make the rules of our democracy. It reminds us that we must be vigilant in our pursuit of a democracy is meaningful, not just window dressing for special interests.
Thank you, Supreme Court. Really, I wasn’t expecting such a profound endorsement. We will heed your advice and continue putting the people of Arizona before the politicians who think so poorly of us.