Legal Alert: Arizona Supreme Court Reinstates Independent Redistricting Commission Chair


by Michael T. Liburdi, Kory A. Langhofer and Adam E. Lang

The Arizona Supreme Court yesterday ordered the reinstatement of Colleen Mathis, the chair of the Independent Redistricting Commission.

On November 1, 2011, Arizona Governor Janice Brewer ordered Mathis’s removal under Article 4, Part 2, § 1(10) of the Arizona Constitution. On the same day, the Arizona Senate concurred by a vote of 21 to 6, ratifying Commissioner Mathis’s removal.

The Independent Redistricting Commission and Mathis asked the Supreme Court to invoke its original jurisdiction and reinstate Mathis, arguing that the Governor may only remove a member of the Commission for cause and that the Governor’s decision is reviewable by the Court. To that end, the Commission and Mathis maintained that the Governor’s stated reasons for removing Mathis—that Mathis violated the State’s open meeting laws and failed to follow the constitutional procedure for drawing the new legislative and congressional maps—did not amount to “substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office, or inability to discharge the duties of office,” the constitutional standard for removal.

 [Read the full alert.]