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remap.JPGWhen California voters endorsed a ballot measure to shift the decennial redrawing of legislative districts to an independent commission in 2008, congressional districts were pointedly excluded.

The reform groups backing the measure were openly fearful that if they attempted to expand the commission's reach, California's congressional members - of both parties - would pump big money into an opposition campaign.

Two years later, however, another ballot measure extended the commission's jurisdiction to Congress, even though there were some legal doubts, since the U.S. Constitution says that state legislatures are to draw congressional districts.

The commission did its work in 2011 and the newly drawn districts were used for the 2012 elections. But some political professionals still harbored doubts about the commission's congressional jurisdiction - or perhaps some hopes that it would be overturned.

There was, in fact, a legal challenge - but not to California's redistricting commission. Arizona's Republican-controlled Legislature filed a federal court lawsuit, contending that it had the exclusive power to redraw congressional districts after the 2010 census, not the state's redistricting commission.

Last week, a three-judge panel of the 9th District Court of Appeal ruled 2-1 that the Arizona commission does have the power to draw congressional districts, thus presumably ending any doubt about the California commission's authority - unless, of course, the ruling is overturned by the full appellate court or the Supreme Court.

The Arizona Capitol Times has this account of the decision, including the full ruling text.

PHOTO: Kamal Preet, right, and other citizens from Fremont hold up signs during the Citizens Redistricting Commission meeting on Tuesday, June 7, 2011. The Sacramento Bee/Randy Pench.


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