Colleen Coyle Mathis, Ousted Arizona Redistricting Chair, Out Of Office Pending Nov. 17 Hearing
The ousted head of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission will remain out of office pending a court hearing next week.
A state Supreme Court justice ruled Tuesday night that Colleen Coyle Mathis cannot temporarily continue as the commission's chairwoman until the full court hears the case on Nov. 17. Mathis was removed last week by Gov. Jan Brewer (R) and the Republican-controlled state Senate after the commission released a draft congressional map that angered Republican lawmakers in the state.
The order clarifies Mathis' current legal status, as many in state government had not known if she would still be able to remain in office pending a final decision by the full Supreme Court. The move also delays consideration of the commission's draft maps for congressional and state legislative districts, since an independent has to join two Democrats and two Republicans on the commission. The draft map -- which added a ninth seat to the state -- had four Republican-leaning districts, two Democratic-leaning districts and three toss-up districts.
Brewer announced that she was seeking to remove Mathis, claiming the commission had violated state constitutional guidelines for redistricting by holding too many closed-door meetings, as well as drafting a map that the governor said did not have compact districts or keep "communities of interest" together. Local Democrats have charged that Brewer and the state Senate engaged in a partisan power-grab to protect GOP lawmakers, including Rep. Ben Quayle (R) and Rep. David Schweikert (R) whose districts were redrawn to overlap in the draft. Quayle has denied an allegation by Democrats that his mother, Marilyn Quayle, wife of former Vice President Dan Quayle, called Brewer to urge Mathis' ouster.
Brewer's spokesman, Matthew Benson, confirmed that Brewer was in contact with the Republican congressional delegation prior to her decision. He clarified to Fox affiliate KSAZ in Phoeniz, however, that the discussions did not include Marilyn Quayle.
On Monday, the Arizona Capitol Times reported that Marilyn Quayle had denied the allegations in a voicemail to the paper. In the report, Quayle is quoted saying that she did not involve herself in the redistricting process.
State Supreme Court Justice W. Scott Bales' order keeps Mathis off the commission until the full court hears arguments next week alleging Brewer's decision violated Mathis' "due process" rights. The order does keep the commission on the case name, denying Brewer's argument that the commission could not sue her. Bales denied Democratic redistricting commissioners Linda McNulty and Jose Herrera the ability to add their names to the suit, but said both could offer amicus briefs to the court.
Bales' order did not address Brewer's contention that the state should not pay Mathis' attorney. Brewer previously claimed that, since Mathis is no longer a state employee, she did not qualify for the state to cover her legal fees.
The justice's move comes as steps have been set in motion to replace Mathis as commission chair. The state's appellate court appointments commission held a hearing Monday to begin considering candidates to succeed Mathis. The appointments commission has until Dec. 1 to submit names to the redistricting commission for the chairmanship. The redistricting commission will then pick a successor to Mathis, in the event that the Supreme Court upholds her removal.