SCOTUS, the Arizona Redistricting Case, and Legislative Logjams

If the Supreme Court rules against the Arizona Redistricting Commission, it could invalidate the tie-breaking procedures used in six states to resolve congressional redistricting impasses, depending on the scope of the Court's decision.

February 13, 2015

When the Supreme Court issues an opinion in Arizona Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, it will be deciding whether voters can take power to draw congressional lines away from politicians and give it to a different body.

An adverse ruling for the Arizona commission would invalidate commissions in states like California and Arizona that draw congressional maps in the first instance. But it also would throw into question the rules in place in several states to handle legislative logjams when lawmakers cannot agree on a map.

Here’s a rundown of state’s that currently used third bodies to draw congressional maps in case of a deadlock.

Connecticut: The state legislature is responsible for congressional mapdrawing in Connecticut. If the legislature fails to pass a map, the Connecticut Supreme Court is authorized to draw a congressional redistricting map. [Conn. Const. art. XXVI(d)]

Indiana: The state legislature is responsible for congressional mapdrawing in Indiana. If the legislature fails to pass a map, a five-member backup commission is formed which creates and implements the congressional redistricting plan. [Ind. Code § 3-3-2-2]

Maine: The state legislature is responsible for congressional mapdrawing in Maine. If the legislature fails to pass a map within the time frame established by state law, the Maine Supreme Court is required to draw a congressional redistricting map. [Me. Const. art. IV, pt. 1, § 3; pt. 2, § 2; Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 1206(2)]

New Jersey: A 13-member commission, comprised of state politicians, is responsible for congressional mapdrawing in New Jersey. If the commission fails to pass a map, it must submit the two plans that received the most votes to the New Jersey Supreme Court for review, which chooses which of the two plans will be implemented. [N.J. Const. art. II, § III]