#SCOTUS Slightly Limits Review in New AZ Redistricting Case

On Tuesday I discussed the Supreme Court’s agreement to hear Harris v. Arizona Ind. Redistricting Commission (more background from Justin here and from Lyle Denniston here.) At the time I initially wrote up the case, I had not reviewed the materials.  I then reviewed them, and thought the primary issue here is going to be the scope of the Larios rule: while redistricting bodies can ordinarily do some deviation from perfect mathematical equality in state and local redistricting, such deviation appears to be improper if motivated by a partisan purpose. The allegation in the complaint is that the independent commission actually engaged in a Democratic gerrymander in drawing unequally populated districts. (The second question has to do with deviation from mathematical equality to comply with the now-moribund preclearance requirements of Section 5 of the VRA.)

A few people asked me about the third question presented, which dealt with the creation of Latino influence districts. The argument was a weak and throwaway one, taking up only 1.5 pages in the jurisdictional statement. Well today the Court got rid of this less significant question with the following order:

ORDER IN PENDING CASE

14-232       HARRIS, WESLEY W., ET AL. V. AZ INDEP. COMMISSION, ET AL.

The order noting probable jurisdiction is amended as follows: In this case probable jurisdiction is noted limited to Questions 1 and 2 presented by the statement as to jurisdiction.

UPDATE: More from Lyle.

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