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Jan Brewer Asks Court To Block Redistricting Chair's Return

Brewer Mathis Redo

First Posted: 11/21/11 09:40 PM ET Updated: 11/22/11 08:26 AM ET

Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer asked the state Supreme Court on Monday to overturn its decision to return the state redistricting chair to office.

The Supreme Court ruled last Thursday that Brewer's removal of Colleen Coyle Mathis as the chairwoman of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission did not meet state constitution guidelines.

In a statement released by her office Monday night, Brewer indicated that she believed she had acted within her constitutional authority to remove Mathis from office, and asked that the Court block Mathis' return until the matter was settled. Brewer also asked the Court to clarify the steps she should take to remove Mathis from office in the future.

It is untenable that the Court has blocked me from executing my constitutional authority to remove a member of the IRC, but has provided neither explanation for its action nor a timetable for when that guidance will be granted. I maintain that my action was lawful to remove the IRC chairwoman based on her misconduct and neglect of duty, and ask that the court reconsider its order of reinstatement. At a minimum, the chairwoman should be barred from resuming her duties until the court has provided clarity regarding its cursory order.

In removing Mathis from her position in early November, Brewer and the Senate said the commission had held too many secret meetings and did not follow constitutional guidelines for drawing a draft map. Brewer had also said Mathis failed to note on her application that her husband had been campaign treasurer for a Democratic legislator.

Brewer's action came after she met with Republican members of the state's congressional delegation, who voiced opposition to the commission's draft map. The draft map included four Republican leaning districts, two Democratic leaning districts and three toss-up districts, and placed Reps. Ben Quayle (R) and David Schweikert (R) in the same district.

Brewer's office also released statements Monday night from Senate President Steve Pierce (R) and House Speaker Andy Tobin (R) supporting her decision. Pierce took the Senate's top spot Monday after former Senate President Russell Pearce (R) was officially recalled from office.

"The governor and the state Senate have clear constitutional authority to remove an IRC member," Pierce said. "When the Court inserts itself into this process, it has an obligation to explain its actions clearly. On Thursday the court not only disregarded the actions of the Governor, but also more than two-thirds of the state Senate. The court owes the people of Arizona an explanation on their intervention, and Ms. Mathis must not return to the IRC until we get those answers."

Brewer's action caps a day of fast-moving events in Phoenix. Mathis has sought to reassert authority over the commission, calling a meeting for next week to start discussing final changes to the draft maps. Mathis' spokesman, Stuart Robinson, indicated the commission is making plans knowing that it is possible Brewer could seek to remove Mathis from office again. Without Mathis in office, the commission would not be able to operate.

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