US Supreme Court upholds Arizona legislative districts

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WASHINGTON, April 20 (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously upheld the state legislative districts in Arizona drawn by an independent commission, rebuffing complaints that the electoral maps diminished the clout of Republican voters.

The court, in its 8-0 ruling, said the commission that draws legislative boundaries did not violate the U.S. Constitution's principle of "one person, one vote."

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Voters wait in line to cast their ballot in Arizona's presidential primary election, Tuesday, March 22, 2016, in Gilbert, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
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Voters wait in line at dawn to cast their ballot in Arizona's presidential primary election, Tuesday, March 22, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
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PROVO, UT - MARCH 22: Voters look for their district on a map for the Utah Republican caucuses at Wasatch Elementary on March 22, 2016 in Provo, Utah. The Republicans have 40 delegates and Democrats 37 delegates at stake in Utah. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
PROVO, UT - MARCH 22: Voters sign up to attend the Utah Republican caucuses at Wasatch Elementary on March 22, 2016 in Provo, Utah. The Republicans have 40 delegates and Democrats 37 delegates at stake in Utah. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
PROVO, UT - MARCH 22: A voter looks on-line to see where to report for the Utah Republican caucuses at Wasatch Elementary on March 22, 2016 in Provo, Utah. The Republicans have 40 delegates and Democrats 37 delegates at stake in Utah. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
PROVO, UT - MARCH 22: A record number of voters from precinct 36 attend the Utah Republican caucuses at Wasatch Elementary on March 22, 2016 in Provo, Utah. The Republicans have 40 delegates and Democrats 37 delegates at stake in Utah. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
PROVO, UT - MARCH 22: Vern (L) and Rhonda Sanford prepare to print out a same day ballot to vote before the Utah caucuses tonight at 7pm on March 22, 2016 in Provo, Utah. The Sanfords both voted for Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
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People vote for their presidential candidate by raising their hand in a classroom at a Republican caucus site Tuesday, March 22, 2016, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/John Locher)
A man in a Bernie Sanders shirt waits in a line to vote at a Democratic caucus site Tuesday, March 22, 2016, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/John Locher)
People wait in a line to vote at a Democratic caucus site Tuesday, March 22, 2016, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/John Locher)
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The case focused on state legislative districts drawn for the 2012 election based on 2010 census numbers. The challengers said the new districts favored Democrats over Republicans by packing Republican voters into certain districts in a way that would minimize their influence in neighboring districts while enhancing the sway of Democratic voters.

In mapping out the state legislative districts, Arizona's independent commission carries out a function that in most other states is handled by state legislators.

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Writing for the court, liberal Justice Stephen Breyer said the deviations in numbers between district populations was not significant enough to be legally troubling, particularly as the state's redistricting commission was trying to comply with the federal Voting Rights Act, which protects minority voters.

The challengers "have not shown that it is more probable than not that illegitimate considerations were the predominant motivation behind the plan's deviations from mathematically equal district populations," Breyer wrote.

A federal court in Arizona upheld the districts in a 2014 ruling, saying the commission had made a "good faith attempt" to comply with the Voting Rights Act. The group of Republican voters who brought the case then appealed the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 19: People take part in a protest against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, on March 19, 2016 in New York City. People protest against Trump's policies which threaten the Immigration system and many of the Latino, Black, LGBT, Muslim, and other communities. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A woman holds a sign during a protest rally against Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump in New York on March 19,2016. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 19: People clash with protesters while they take part in a march against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, on March 19, 2016 in New York City. People protest against Trump's policies which threaten the Immigration system and many of the Latino, Black, LGBT, Muslim, and other communities. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally Saturday, March 19, 2016, in Fountain Hills, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Protesters stand in the crowd of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump supporters as Trump speaks during a campaign rally, Saturday, March 19, 2016, in Fountain Hills, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 19: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to guest gathered at Fountain Park during a campaign rally on March 19, 2016 in Fountain Hills, Arizona. Trump visits Arizona for the second time in three months as he looks to gain the GOP nomination for President. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
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FOUNTAIN HILLS, AZ - MARCH 19: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to guest gathered at Fountain Park during a campaign rally on March 19, 2016 in Fountain Hills, Arizona. Trump visits Arizona for the second time in three months as he looks to gain the GOP nomination for President. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
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A woman holds a sign during a protest rally against Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump in New York on March 19,2016. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
People rally as they take part in a protest against Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump in New York on March 19,2016. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 19: A NYPD officer tries to keep an eye on protesters while they take part in a protest against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, on March 19, 2016 in New York City. People protest against Trump's policies which threaten the Immigration system and many of the Latino, Black, LGBT, Muslim, and other communities. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 19: People march while they take part in a protest against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, on March 19, 2016 in New York City. People protest against Trump's policies which threaten the Immigration system and many of the Latino, Black, LGBT, Muslim, and other communities. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
A man is taken into custody during an anti Donald Trump protest, Saturday, March 19, 2016, in New York. Several hundred demonstrators gathered in New York City to protest Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
New York Police officers(NYPD) walk among a protest rally against Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump in New York on March 19, 2016. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 19: People take part in a protest against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, on March 19, 2016 in New York City. People protest against Trump's policies which threaten the Immigration system and many of the Latino, Black, LGBT, Muslim, and other communities. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 19: A man falls down as NYPD officers try to arrest protesters while they take part in demonstrations against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, on March 19, 2016 in New York City. People protest against Trump's policies which threaten the Immigration system and many of the Latino, Black, LGBT, Muslim, and other communities. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 19: People march while they take part in a protest against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, on March 19, 2016 in New York City. People protest against Trump's policies which threaten the Immigration system and many of the Latino, Black, LGBT, Muslim, and other communities. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 19: NYPD officers arrest a protester while they take part in a demonstrations against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, on March 19, 2016 in New York City. People protest against Trump's policies which threaten the Immigration system and many of the Latino, Black, LGBT, Muslim, and other communities. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 19: People take part in a protest against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, on March 19, 2016 in New York City. People protest against Trump's policies which threaten the Immigration system and many of the Latino, Black, LGBT, Muslim, and other communities. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
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The case was the second in as many years concerning Arizona's independent commission. In June 2015, the court rejected another challenge to the commission's role in drawing congressional districts.

In that decision, the court found that the ballot initiative that set up the commission did not violate the U.S. Constitution's requirement that state legislatures set U.S. House of Representatives district boundaries.

Wednesday's ruling was the second by the court this month touching upon the issue of "one person, one vote."

On April 4, the justices also ruled unanimously in a Texas case to uphold the method all 50 states use in drawing legislative districts by counting every resident and not just eligible voters. In that case, the justices rejected a conservative challenge that could have diminished the influence of urban Hispanics.

The case is Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 14-232. (Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)

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