Court overturns ouster of redistricting official

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Gov. Jan Brewer and former IRC chairwoman Colleen Mathis By Catherine Holland Gov. Jan Brewer and former IRC chairwoman Colleen Mathis By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX (AP) -- The Arizona Supreme Court has overturned Gov. Jan Brewer's politically charged removal of the chair of the state redistricting commission and ordering the official's reinstatement.

The court's order issued late Thursday says Brewer's removal letter failed to demonstrate that Colleen Mathis engaged in conduct that gave Brewer constitutional grounds for removal.

Mathis and the Independent Redistricting Commission had challenged her removal, which interrupted the commission's once-a-decade drawing of new congressional and redistricting maps.

The challenge argued that Brewer acted outside her constitutional authority for partisan motivations and failed to provide required due process for Mathis.

Brewer says the commission under Mathis had violated the open meeting law and constitutional mapping criteria and processes.

“Today’s decision by the Arizona Supreme Court is deeply regrettable," Brewer said in a statement to the media. "I am disappointed, certainly. More important, this misguided ruling bodes ill for the integrity of redistricting in this state.”
(Read Brewer's entire statement)

Brewer, GOP considering options on redistricting

Brewer and Republican legislative leaders are considering their options after the Arizona Supreme Court's decision.
The commission also is considering what to do now that the court has ordered the reinstatement of Mathis, its only independent member and the deciding vote on a number of key decisions.

The commission hasn't met since before Brewer removed Mathis on Nov. 1. 

At issue now is whether and when the five-member panel moves to begin working on final versions of draft congressional and legislative district maps that Brewer and other Republicans had criticized.

Proposition 106 was the Noember 2000 ballot measure that led to the creation of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. Dennis Burke, the author of that proposition sat down with 3TV's Tess Rafols to discuss the Supreme Court's decision.