December 08, 2015

Jenner & Block Partner Paul M. Smith made an oral argument before the US Supreme Court on behalf of the Arizona Independent Redistricting  Commission in Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting  Commission.   A group of Arizona voters contend that the Commission violated the one person, one vote principle by drawing a legislative district map that included a population deviation between districts under 10 percent to comply with the voting Rights Act and to achieve partisan advantage.  The questions before the Court are (1) whether the desire to gain partisan advantage for one political party justifies intentionally creating modestly over- and under-populated state legislative districts and (2) whether the desire to obtain favorable preclearance review by the Justice Department can justify such population variations.  “This is a case where you wonder:  where’s the beef?” Mr. Smith said. “What exactly are we here for? There’s no problem with this map.  It’s not a racial gerrymander.  It’s within the 10 percent boundary.  They did everything in the open.”  A decision is expected in June.  Media outlets including The National Law Journal (subscription required), BuzzFeed News and SCOTUS blog reported on the high-profile case. The Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting  Commission case was Mr. Smith’s 17th argument before the Court.  Along with Mr. Smith, others writing a merits brief in the case were Partner Jessica Ring Amunson and Associates Emily Chapuis, Zachary C. Schauf and Alex S. Trepp.