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The Arizona Supreme Court blocked an effort today by the ousted chairwoman of the state’s independent redistricting commission to immediately return to the panel.
The court denied Chairwoman Colleen Mathis’ request to be temporarily reinstated until a Nov. 17 hearing, when she will request permanent reinstatement.
GOP Gov. Jan Brewer and the Republican-dominated state Senate removed Mathis last week after the redistricting group produced a Congressional map that Republicans say favors Democrats. Mathis is a registered Independent and was the swing vote on the panel.
State law says a commissioner must have committed “substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office, or inability to discharge the duties of the office” in order to be removed. Both Mathis’ personal attorney and the commission’s counsel say that threshold has not been met.
Republican state Senators argue otherwise. Their list of grievances includes complaints about the committee’s transparency and its use of mapmaking software supplied by Strategic Telemetry, which worked for the Democratic presidential campaigns of President Barack Obama in 2008 and Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) in 2004. The commission’s counsel and spokesman strongly dispute that the accusations are grounds for the dismissal.
“We will work with the vice chairmen to see how the commission should proceed while the Arizona Supreme Court resolves the important legal issues in dispute,” said a commission statement on tonight’s ruling. “In the meantime, we will continue processing the tremendous amount of input the commission received during the public comment period.”