“The Supreme Court and the Power of the People”

Michael Li:

A good advocate tries to make things simple, and sitting through Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court hearing over the constitutionality of Arizona’s independent redistricting commission, it was clear — if there had been any doubt — that former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement is one very good advocate. For Clement, who was representing the Arizona Legislature in its challenge to the commission, the whole of the case turned on a single word: legislature. Because the Constitution says that the “times, places, and manner” of federal elections should be decided in each state by the “legislature thereof,” he told the Justices that meant Arizona voters had no right to use a ballot initiative to pass the law creating the commission in 2000. But for all the superficial simplicity of Clement’s argument, the history of the Founding Era and the years since suggests the Court should not be so quick to relegate the people to bystanders.


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