Commission chair Colleen Mathis, middle, pours over possible congressional redistricting maps as she is flanked by commissioners Linda McNulty, left, and commission vice chair, Scott Freeman during an Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission meeting Monday, Oct. 3, 2011, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Ross D. Franklin

The Independent Redistricting Commission wants a judge to throw out efforts by Republicans to void the map it created for the state’s nine congressional districts.

Legal papers filed late Monday charge that those seeking a new map are using “innuendo, selectively extracted transcript excerpts, and speculation to weave a conspiracy theory intended to cast doubt on the commission’s work.”

Attorneys for the commission also said the lawsuit never says that the maps which will be used beginning this year do not meet the constitutional goals. These range from requirements to comply with the federal Voting Rights Act to creating compact districts and protecting communities of interest.

Instead, Mary O’Grady and Joe Kanefield, the two lead attorneys for the commission, told Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Mark Brain that the complaint is instead focused on “manufacturing flaws” about the procedures used to draw the map.

The move comes as a different group of Republicans is trying to get a federal court to invalidate the lines drawn for the state’s 30 legislative districts.

In that case, however, the challengers want to block the state from using those maps for this year’s election. Instead, they are asking a panel of three judges to draw different lines — lines that those who filed suit believe will be not only legal but also likely more favorable to GOP candidates.

Both lawsuits are built around what the 2000 voter-approved initiative requires the commission to do when crafting maps. In both cases, challengers say that the failure to follow procedures resulted in maps that do not meet the constitutional mandates.

In their Monday filing in the congressional maps case, the lawyers for the commission said there is no basis for that contention.

“They depend on flawed interpretations that, if adopted, would require this court to write into the constitution procedural requirements that do not exist,” the commission attorneys wrote. They also told Brain there is no basis for claims that a majority of commission members improperly discussed the proposed congressional maps out of public purview.

In the case playing out in federal court, the judges there are considering a request by both the Maricopa County elections department and the Citizens Clean Election Commission to intervene.

Attorneys for both say they have no position on whether the legislative maps are properly drawn. But both have expressed concern for what might happen if the judges decide to invalidate the district lines now, what with the filing deadline for candidates at the end of this month and the primary at the end of August.

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