The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission sued Gov. Jan Brewer for the removal of the Independent Chairperson, Colleen Mathis earlier this month. Gov. Brewer’s attorney’s position is 1) the Commission isn’t formally empowered by the law to actually sue her (i.e., they have no standing) and 2) the Courts cannot second guess the Governor’s judgement regarding what does and does not constitute gross misconduct.

Now if you’re thinking, “Say wha?!” That’s what I said!  Governor Brewer actually has the cojones to look the Arizona Supreme Court in the eyes and say “You can’t tell me how to define gross misconduct.”  Ummmm….news flash for you Governor but “gross misconduct” has a long and rich precedence in American jurisprudence and tell the Courts that they don’t have the power to define something like that, particularly in a case alleging the intentional misuse of the definition in order to allow the Executive Branch to take over control of a process which was taken out of it’s control by another branch, the Voters, is well nuts.  That’s precisely the kind of situation for which the Courts were created by our Founding Fathers.

On the other side, the Commission’s stance is 1) that the ballot initiative that created the Commission in the first place was intended to remove political influence and 2) the Governor tried to get around that intention by misusing the removal clause by so broadly defining gross misconduct as to be ridiculous.  In this case the Governor and her fellow lackeys didn’t like the redistricting maps that were submitted for public examination and immediately moved to remove Chairwoman Mathis.

The Governor is relying on the fact that the law was poorly written.   She, by God, is going to take full advantage of it.  However, it isn’t unheard of for the courts to take “intention” of a law into account, regardless of how poorly written it is.  And I’m hoping (and probably so are the Commission’s attorneys) that the AZ Supreme Court does take the law’s intention into account.  Furthermore if the Commission doesn’t have standing to sue, I guaran-fucking-tee you the voters of Arizona do.  Why the Commission can’t “stand in” for the citizens of Arizona, I don’t know (I’m not a lawyer*).   Unfortunately for us, if the Supreme Court does decide the Commission doesn’t have standing to sue, it may be too late for voters to sue instead.

You see for AZ Republicans a delay is as good as a win.  Their tactic is to delay and co-opt the Commission in the meantime.  That’s why Gov. Brewer’s attorneys also requested that the court, while considering the case, not allow Mathis to remain  in her position.  If Mathis is allowed to remain in her position, there would be nothing to stop the Commission from approving the redistricting maps that have been created to date.  So Brewer’s attorney’s also asked the Court to block the Commission’s ability to approve the maps in the meantime.  Stopping the approval of the maps was the whole reason behind Mathis ouster anyway (and the attempt to get rid of the two Democrats on the Commission as well**).

Moreover, while pending the Court’s decision the Governor is asking a State panel to nominate people to replace Mathis on the Commission.  So who is on the panel?  The head of the State Supreme Court, Chief Justice Berch, a Republican, leads the screening panel.***  Also on the panel is Michael Rusing, a Tucson attorney, and Charie Wallace, superintendent of the Santa Cruz Valley High School District.    I couldn’t seem to find any political affiliation for these two individuals and am still not sure who else is on the screening panel.  The irony is that this is the same panel that chose Mathis from a long list of candidates in the first place and would likely select someone similar if NOT for the interference of the Governor.

The entire point of this action seems to be one of delaying the entire redistricting process until the Governor gets someone who will change the maps.  And that is not how the law was intended to work.   Meanwhile even members of the screening panel are fighting over what they should consider….some of them even saying that the political affiliation of nominee’s family should be taken into consideration.

Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills (you may recall I’ve written about this person before, re: shenanigans)**** has indicated that he believes it is fair game to not only look at candidates’ political past but also that of their spouses.  Phrasing in terms quite paranoid, Kavanagh and other Republicans said that Colleen Mathis may have been a registered Independent but the fact that she was married to a Democrat made her ” secret” Democrat or at least a “sympathizer”.

That’s right…they think that Mathis was only “posing” as an Independent because her husband was a, horror of horrors a Democrat and active in his party….eeek!  Heaven’s to Betsy!!!!  This is a case of projection, in the extreme.  You know how liars always think everyone else is lying to them and cheaters always think their spouse is cheating on them…..well, politicians who are used to dirty tricks always think the other party is up to dirty tricks.   The screening panel will probably have to beg people to take the position now….who wants to be held personally accountable for how their spouse thinks and votes.  You would almost think that AZ Republicans don’t think Mathis (a woman) had a mind of her own!  But I digress…..

What is boils down to is that Gov. Brewer thought it was better beg for forgiveness afterward than to ask for permission beforehand. Although that is probably giving her far too much credit.  She never asks forgiveness and she knew she didn’t have permission in the first place.  Gov. Brewer, on behalf of Arizona Republicans decided to delay the effect that changes in the state’s population would have on elections over the next 10 years through redistricting.   In order to do that they needed to malign the reputation of a legitimately selected chairwoman, to delay the work of the Redistricting Commission and, thereby, thumb their noses at the will of the people.  All in day’s work for Gov. Brewer and her lackeys.

Notes:

*Obviously I’m not a lawyer or 1) I wouldn’t be putting this opinion online and 2) it wouldn’t be so poorly articulated.

**Thankfully state Senators did not vote for the removal of the Democrats, just the independent Chairwoman.  My guess is that they knew removing the Democrats would look too obvious and picking on an independent would be punishment free.

***Chief Justice Berch is recusing herself from the hearing on the matter of the Redistricting Commission v. Gov. Brewer, and the former Chief Justice will take her place.   At least someone in AZ knows how not to overstep their bounds.

****Pick any cold hearted, ugly and/or scummy behavior by Gov. Brewer in this state and it seems that Kavanagh is always right there with her in the center of the swill.

Sources:

http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2011/11/07/20111107brewer-arizona-supreme-court-redistrict-panel-cannot-file-suit.html

http://azstarnet.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/elections/state-high-court-can-t-overturn-ouster-brewer-attorneys-say/article_5cbc5caf-15a7-516c-9e04-5a9241af8875.html

http://azstarnet.com/news/state-and-regional/ariz-panel-takes-up-redistricting-vacancy/article_a3de4b92-28d6-57c6-a08f-9d070f8632d0.html

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  1. […] her abilities.  I criticized the argument she made before the state’s highest court in an earlier post (and I will do so again) but it’s not really Hauser’s fault.  All attorney’s, […]

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