Extra resources for students of State and Local Government 180, an upper-division GE class in the Government Department at Sacramento State University
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin: Court challenges to redistricting continue
Challenges to state Senate redistricting moving forward
By Neil Nisperos, Staff Writer
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Created: 01/02/2012 03:10:55 PM PST
The Associated Press contributed to this report
The California Supreme Court will hear arguments on Jan. 10 about redistricting lines that will be used in 2012's state Senate elections.
A Republican group had asked the California Supreme Court on Dec. 2 to shelve the newly drawn state Senate district map, even though the court previously declined to take up such a challenge.
The petition was filed recently by a group called Fairness and Accountability in Redistricting.
The group has submitted more than 711,000 signatures for a referendum to stop the new electoral map from being used in next year's election.
FAIR wants the high court to prepare for the referendum by either using the previous Senate district map or combining two new Assembly districts for every Senate seat for the 2012 election.
The petition also asks for a special master on redistricting.
The referendum signatures that were submitted to counties in November are now being verified. The effort needs about 500,000 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.
"Because we filed well over 700,000 signatures, we are able to ask the court to consider interim remedies when the referendum qualifies and to stay the use of the Redistricting Commission's Senate maps for the 2012 elections," said state Sen. Mimi Walters, R-Laguna Beach, who is spearheading the effort.
Voters tasked a citizen-led redistricting commission to draw new legislative and congressional districts in response to concerns of gerrymandering by lawmakers that preserved districts for incumbents and their parties.
But opponents of the new Senate districts say redistricting could hurt local influence in Sacramento.
"We believe that the lines the commission drew for the state Senate did not follow the criteria in the (state) Constitution for compactness or for respecting city and county borders," said Dave Gilliard, a spokesman for the FAIR referendum group.
"For instance, (there are) six different Senate districts snaking into the County of San Bernardino. It has a population for two districts, so by cutting San Bernardino into six districts, it dilutes San Bernardino as an influence on Sacramento."
State Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, who supports the referendum effort, agreed.
"I'm concerned that our region won't get all the attention it should," said Dutton, who terms out of the Senate next year.
Commissioner Stan Forbes, current rotating chair of the Citizens Redistricting Commission, said there was no reason for the court to stay the maps or appoint special masters to redraw the lines because the map was drawn in compliance with the state Constitution and other criteria set by the redistricting law.
"The State Supreme Court in a unanimous 7-0 vote has already decided that the commission's maps, drawn with the input of tens of thousands of Californians, are in compliance with the Constitution and the other criteria of Proposition 11, which itself was approved by millions of Californians," Forbes said.