Congressman Lowenthal Applauds Supreme Court Ruling on Arizona Independent Redistricting

June 29, 2015
Press Release

Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) released the following statement regarding the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission which upheld that citizens of states could appoint independent commissions to draw congressional districts:

"Today was a great day for democracy and a bad day for those who would choose to gerrymander. The United States Supreme Court, in their ruling, affirmed ‘the core principle of republican government, namely, that the voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around.'

"Today, the Supreme Court concurred with the arguments that I, Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher, and 18 of my bipartisan colleagues wrote in a January Amicus Brief  to the Supreme Court supporting the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.

"My colleagues and I argued that the state referendum is a valid lawmaking power of a state, and the term ‘Legislature' must include the peoples' referendum. The Court agreed: ‘In sum, our precedent teaches that redistricting is a legislative function, to be performed in accordance with the State's prescriptions for lawmaking, which may include the referendum …we see no constitutional barrier to a State's empowerment of its people by embracing that form of lawmaking.'

"My colleagues and I argued that Congress has specifically acted to endorse the ability of States to redistrict through independent redistricting ever since it passed a law in 1911. Again the Court agreed after reviewing the law's legislative history: ‘The 1911 law, we hold, permits use of a commission to adopt Arizona's congressional districts.'

"Finally, my colleagues and I argued that the state referendum is fully consistent with the history and principles of the Constitution's Elections Clause and constitutional federalism which our Framers envisioned. The Court unambiguously agreed: ‘The Clause surely was not adopted to diminish a State's authority to determine its own lawmaking processes...Both parts of the Elections Clause are in line with the fundamental premise that all political power flows from the people.'

"However there is still much more work to do. Only six states have redistricting systems that begin to approach independence from politicians drawing their own lines, and I will not stop fighting for bipartisan solutions to end gerrymandering for all 50 states. The Supreme Court confirmed that the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause empowers the U.S. Congress to ultimately determine how states will redistrict if it so choses, and I intend to look for bipartisan pathways to use that power to end gerrymandering once and for all."