VOL. 17 ISSUE NO. 47  |  NOVEMBER 22 – 29, 2011


Arizona Supreme Court reinstates Mathis as chair of IRC

Senate leadership says ‘court should never have inserted itself in this legislative action’

colleen mathisPHOENIX – On Thursday evening, only hours after hearing oral arguments regarding the removal of the Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) Chair Colleen Mathis (l), the Arizona Supreme Court overturned Governor Jan Brewer’s decision to oust Mathis for “gross misconduct” and “substantial neglect of duty.”

Although, as of this writing, a written opinion of the court was not yet available, the court stated Brewer’s Nov. 1 letter notifying Mathis she was being removed did not demonstrate the criteria required for removal, which includes gross misconduct, substantial neglect of duty or inability to discharge the duties of office.

Brewer issued a statement after the decision saying she was disappointed and called the court’s decision “deeply regrettable.”

She went on to say, “More important, this misguided ruling bodes ill for the integrity of redistricting in this state.”

According to Brewer, the decision to remove Mathis came “[o]nly after much deliberation.”

However, in doing so, Brewer said she “wielded a constitutional authority specifically granted by the voters of this state for cases in which the governor – in his/her judgment – found that an IRC member had committed gross misconduct or acted with sub-stantial neglect of duty. With today’s decision, the court has substituted its judgment and authority for that which the voters specifically assigned to the governor.”

Brewer stated, “Let’s not forget why we’re here: The IRC followed an unconstitutional redistricting process, conducting too much of its business behind closed doors and disregarding mapping criteria seemingly at will. They did all of this without explanation.”

Because the redistricting process comes only a once-a-decade, Brewer said “it is critical that Arizona get it right.”

She said she would be considering her options as to how best to proceed in the coming days.

Speaker of the House Andy Tobin, R-Dist. 1, wasn’t so politically correct in his criticism of the court’s decision when he issued the following statement:

“I am extremely disappointed that the court has chosen to reinstate a biased czar to the Independent Redistricting Commission. By placing Ms. Mathis back at the helm of the commission, the court has substituted its opinion for the voice of the people through those they have actually elected to represent them. The court has removed the last remaining check and balance on an unelected and unaccountable body that has spent months blatantly and proudly violating open meeting laws, meeting in secret, ignoring voter mandates and placating the Democrat Party and the Obama administration. If this commission is not put to a stop, the court’s decision means more secrecy and more gerrymandering from a body that has shown a disdain for the Constitution.”

Tobin concluded with, “Moving forward, I am putting all options on the table in an effort to protect our state from being hijacked by a partisan ploy to demolish the democratic process.”

Late Friday afternoon Senate Leadership issued the following statement on the court’s ruling:

“Not only is the decision by the Supreme Court to reinstate Colleen Mathis wrong, but the court should never have inserted itself in this Legislative action in the first place. Proposition 106 wording makes it clear that the determination of ‘gross misconduct’ or ‘substantial neglect of duty’ is made by the governor and the Senate.

“There is mountainous evidence demonstrating gross misconduct or substantial neglect of duty by Ms. Mathis, from clandestine meetings with Strategic Telemetry to violations of open meeting laws to engaging in her own private mapping session over a weekend to redraw Congressional maps, then demanding the commission vote that Monday.

“This is not the time to step back and look at the evidence before acting. The evidence is there, and you can bet this rogue chair will move as quickly as possible to push through her unconstitutional maps and get them to the Department of Justice.

“Senate Leadership is calling on the governor to move swiftly and use anything within her means to stop this runaway train. We must bring back integrity to the redistricting process.