The redistricting conundrum: Just what is a community of interest?

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By Jeremy Duda | Arizona Mirror 

Long after he’d finished his work chairing the first Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, Steve Lynn crossed paths with Sandra Day O’Connor, and took the opportunity to ask the retired Supreme Court justice a nagging question he from his time drawing the state’s congressional and legislative districts: How exactly does one define the term “community of interest?”

Respect for communities of interest is one of the six criteria that the Arizona Constitution established for redistricting in this state. It’s an issue that has long been of paramount importance for redistricting. It’s also vague and largely undefined. Even after drawing Arizona’s redistricting maps in 2001, the precise definition of the term eluded Lynn. 

So, he asked O’Connor. He knew she’d written about the issue in a major U.S. Supreme Court opinion, and figured she’d know as well as anyone. But, Lynn said, she explained that she didn’t really know how to define it, either. 

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