Extra resources for students of State and Local Government 180, an upper-division GE class in the Government Department at Sacramento State University
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin: State redistricting commission blasts lawsuits
California Citizens Redistricting Commission blasts lawsuits
California Supreme Court urged to issue dismissal
Neil Nisperos, Staff Writer
Inland Valley Bulletin
Posted: 10/22/2011 06:16:05 PM PDT
The Sacramento Bee contributed to this report.
The California Supreme Court is reviewing a request to dismiss lawsuits challenging newly drawn political districts for Congress and the state Senate.
Opponents say the new maps don't meet constitutional requirements for redistricting and obligations under the Voting Rights Act, which outlaws discriminatory electoral procedures.
But the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, which drew the new districts after voters approved of the new non-political process, said all criteria were reasonably considered and applied and asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the suits.
"Simply stated, we fully took into account the Voting Rights Act and we drew districts that we thought were fair and representative," said Stan Forbes, a commissioner from Yolo County. "We met all the criteria that the public established."
Opponents to the new districts seek the appointment of state judges, called "special masters," to devise new congressional district maps before the primary next year.
Secretary of State Debra Bowen, in a recent court filing, stated that any delay in a Supreme Court decision over whether to appoint special masters could jeopardize the timely preparation of candidates for the June primary.
Bowen's filing recommended the court decide on the merits of the challenges as soon as possible.
Republican opponents to the new districts contend the maps were drawn to favor Democrats. The challenge of the new boundaries has found bipartisan support.
Democratic Rep. Joe Baca of San Bernardino has decided to run in the newly created 35th District, though he supports the suits. Baca said Latino voter strength in his current 43rd District was diluted to create the new congressional lines - changes he said violate the Voting Rights Act.
"The GOP was correct in the lawsuit particularly as they relate to the 31st Congressional District," Baca said. "It clearly violated the Voting Rights Act."
The commission's legal response said its maps complied with constitutional requirements and that the lawsuits rely "exclusively on the unsupported factual speculation and legal conclusions of a single, shared `expert' - whose preferences they would substitute for the commission's public process, measured deliberations, and careful exercise of its constitutional mandate."
Former Republican Rep. George Radanovich, of Mariposa, who filed the challenge to the congressional districts, argued that the panel failed to meet its obligation under the federal Voting Rights Act. The suit contends that lines for three districts in Los Angeles were drawn to protect three incumbents in violation of federal law and the state Constitution.
The lawsuit challenging the Senate districts contends the new boundaries dilute the voting power of Latinos, fail to comply with constitutional requirements for compactness, contiguity, communities of interest, and existing county boundary lines and unnecessarily split up San Bernardino and Sacramento counties into multiple districts.