If You Don't Like the Map, Impeach the Map-Maker

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 1 2011 1:56 PM

If You Don't Like the Map, Impeach the Map-Maker

So: Arizona. The state gained a new congressional seat after the 2010 Census. Republicans also kept control of the entire state legislature, and the governor's office -- Gov. Jan Brewer, who fell into the job when Janet Napolitano went to DHS, won re-election. But unlike in other states, Republicans didn't get to run the redistricting process. That job fell to a commission of two Democrats, two Republicans and an independent, who turned in a map reminiscent of the ones you see in Iowa -- carved up to maximize the number of competitive seats at the local and congressional level.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

That was an offense to Brewer. She wrote a letter on October 26 accusing the commission of "elevating 'competitiveness' above the other goals." Thus began a process in which the legislature could impeach and remove the members of the commission, and possibly get a new line-up that would draw a better map for partisans. Today, Republicans are on alert for Brewer to call a special session in which they could start the impeachments. The official argument: the governor "does not have to wait for a court's determination that someone broke the law before seeking their ouster."

Senate Majority Leader Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, said what a judge considers "gross misconduct" is irrelevant to whether they can remove a commissioner.
"There's no case law on it, so it's defined by the Legislature," said Biggs, an attorney. "Gross misconduct is essentially what the Legislature says gross misconduct is."
Senate President Russell Pearce agreed that the Legislature is not bound by any specific legal definition.
"It's kind of like when one of the (U.S.) Supreme Court judges said they may not be able to define pornography, 'but I know it when I see it,' " Pearce said.

The charge in this case isn't pornography: It's trying to draw a competitive map. That's it. That's the impeachable offense.

UPDATE: A source tells me that members expect to be called up at 1 p.m. local time.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



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