Brewer wants court to ignore critics of Mathis removal from redistricting panel - East Valley Tribune: Politics

Brewer wants court to ignore critics of Mathis removal from redistricting panel

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Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 7:16 am

Gov. Jan Brewer says the Arizona Supreme Court should ignore arguments by those who crafted the redistricting initiative that her actions in firing the chairwoman of that panel go beyond what they ever intended.

In legal briefs filed late Monday, Lisa Hauser, the governor's attorney, called the drafters "part of a loud and predictable chorus decrying the removal" of Colleen Mathis.

"And it should be apparent that removal for any reason would engender the same reaction," Hauser wrote. That includes not only the people involved in drafting the ballot measure but also others who want to overturn the firing including Common Cause, the League of Women Voters of Arizona and the Navajo Nation.

But Hauser said the comments by those involved in the 2000 initiative -- people who at the time headed Arizona Common Cause, Valley Citizens League and the League of Women Voters -- hold no legal water.

The trio acknowledged the measure does allow the governor to fire any member of the Independent Redistricting Commission for gross misconduct or substantial neglect of duty. But they said their intent was to limit removal to "serious offenses like bribery or extortion."

Hauser said that intent is legally irrelevant.

"Although these are serious offenses, so are violations of the constitution's redistricting provisions," Hauser wrote. "The drafters had the option of specifying certain crimes as grounds for removal but did not do so."

Hauser also brushed aside the drafters' submission to the court of an earlier version of the initiative, one that would have given the governor broader powers of removal, but one that was scrapped before the measure was submitted to voters. She said the only thing that counts is the wording of what was approved.

"Information about what might have been in the minds of the drafters of a provision is not relevant to what was in the collective minds of the voters when they adopted it."

The high court is set to hear arguments Thursday about the breadth of the governor's power and whether she exceeded it in firing Mathis. Brewer said Mathis violated the Open Meeting Law and crafted maps for the state's nine congressional districts that do not comply with constitutional requirements.


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