Earlier this month, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) strongarmed the state legislature into impeaching and removing the chair of that state’s bipartisan redistricting commission. According to Brewer, by drawing many congressional districts where there would be competitive races between Democratic and Republican candidates, the election official, Colleen Mathis, somehow engaged in “neglect of duty and gross misconduct.” Just over two weeks later, the state supreme court struck down this impeachment, holding that Brewer failed to show the “substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office or inability to discharge the duties of office” required to justify an impeachment. Apparently, not drawing maps that maximize GOP victories isn’t actually gross misconduct.
Never one to let a small thing like the Arizona Constitution get in the way of a good power grab, however, Brewer is now preparing for a second round:
Gov. Jan Brewer may make another attempt as early as this coming week to fire the chairwoman of the Independent Redistricting Commission.
The governor said Friday her attorneys are studying the brief order issued late Thursday by the Arizona Supreme Court voiding the governor’s Nov. 1 decision to fire Colleen Mathis. She said all options are on the table – including recrafting the letter she sent to Mathis firing her in a way that might pass court muster. [...] In their brief order, the justices said that Brewer’s Nov. 1 letter to Mathis, “does not demonstrate substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office, or inability to discharge the duties of office.” Those are the only reasons in the constitution that a governor can fire a commissioner.
Brewer noted, though, the justices did not say what would be legal and how she could fire Mathis in a way to satisfy the court.
People who actually care about the rule of law can only hope that the state legislature would balk at such a transparent and obvious power grab, but they probably shouldn’t hold their breath. Every single one of the state senate’s 21 GOP senators voted with Brewer to illegally remove Mathis from the commission the first time around.