Justices to review Arizona districting commission

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court said Thursday it will consider a challenge by Arizona Republicans to the state's congressional districting map.

Arizona voters created an independent redistricting commission in 2000 in an effort to take politics out of the process.

But the GOP-led state legislature complained in a lawsuit that the Constitution exclusively gives power to draw maps for congressional districts to elected state lawmakers.

A divided panel of federal judges dismissed the lawsuit, but justices said they will review the lower court ruling.

In a brief order, the justices said they would consider whether the commission is allowed either under the Constitution or federal law. The court also will consider whether Arizona lawmakers even have the right to bring their lawsuit.

California, which also uses an independent commission, could be affected by the high court's decision, the Republicans suggested in their legal brief.

The commission was given the power previously held by the Legislature to draw federal congressional maps and state legislative district maps.

The 2000 constitutional amendment required the commission to draw equal-population districts and take into account goals that included communities of interest, compactness and competitiveness — whether individual districts could realistically be won by both major parties' candidates. The commission adopted maps in 2002 and again 10 years later.

Democrats sued over the 2002 map and eventually lost. Republican lawmakers filed their challenge after the 2012 map was released.

The three most competitive districts were won by Democrats in 2012, and are being hotly contested again this year.

The court will hear argument during the winter.

The case is Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, 13-1314.

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