Monday, June 29, 2015

Justice Ginsburg, Voters, the Arizona Constitution (and Clean Elections)

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a lower court decision, holding that Arizona voters could, in fact, set up an independent redistricting commission to draw congressional maps. 

The case revolved around whether the U.S. Constitution by delegating to the "legislature" authority over federal elections limited that authority to only legislative bodies such as the state house or senate.  Justice Ginsburg, writing for the majority, said it did not.

Justice Ginsburg recognized that the Arizona Constitution gives the voters the power to make laws just as the legislature can.  Indeed, the legislature and the voters "share lawmaking power under Arizona's system of government." Thus, in Arizona "the people reserve the power to propose laws and amendments to the constitution and to enact or reject such laws and amendments at the polls, independently of the legislature; and they also reserve, for use at their own option, the power to approve or reject at the polls any act, or item, section, or part of any act, of the legislature." 

Voters enshrined the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission in the Arizona Constitution.  It is just one feature of the Arizona Constitution that elevates voters' interests over elected politicians.  Another is the Voter Protection Act, passed in 1998, that secures the Clean Elections Act and other voter-approved mandates from tampering.  Indeed, the Arizona Constitution demonstrates a commitment by voters to themselves including the initiative, referendum, and recall provisions, a ban on corporate campaign contributions, a mandate to the very first legislature to (wait for it) pass disclosure laws, and direct primary elections

In Arizona, elections should be pure and free.

In addition to being protected from legislative tampering by the Voter Protection Act, Clean Elections shares a lot with Arizona's Constitution and therefore the history (and future) of our state. 

Arizona voters set up Clean Elections with themselves in mind: Through voter-driven financing, Clean Elections seeks to bring voters into the system and push corruption out by breaking the link between dollars and political favors that can lead to corruption.  Clean Elections provides for timely, electronic reporting of campaign finances (and did so long-before this was a popular notion).  Clean Elections provides tools to bring voters information like the candidate statement pamphlet and debates.  And Clean Elections ensures that the Act is independently enforced and administrated by a non-partisan commission that is not beholden to the legislature for funding.

Arizona voters are at the center of Arizona's foundational document.  And Arizona voters put in place a Clean Elections System to "improve the integrity of Arizona state government by diminishing the influence of special-interest money,  . . . encourage citizen participation in the political process, and . . . promote freedom of speech under the U.S. and Arizona Constitutions."