January 27, 2012 · Filed Under Elections
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California's state Senate map is now set for 2012, after a 7-0 Supreme Court ruling. (Photo: CRC Map)
If the state Senate districts drawn by California's new citizens redistricting panel are going to be erased and redrawn this decade, it will only happen if a referendum qualifies for the November ballot and voters agree.
That's because the final legal attempt by GOP activists to block the map was resoundingly rejected Friday morning by the California Supreme Court.
Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and her fellow justices could rule on the fate of state Senate political maps by the end of this month. (Photo: AP/Paul Sakuma)
SAN FRANCISCO -- Set aside the lengthy and complicated legal and constitutional points made Tuesday morning in oral arguments in front of the California Supreme Court and you come down to one basic question: will the maps of state Senate districts drawn by an independent citizens commission be used for the June primary and November general elections... or not?
From there, the questions posed and debated by attorneys for more than an hour this morning went something like this: does a voter-approved amendment to the state constitution mandate the high court to intervene now that a referendum is on the radar? And if the Supreme Court justices believe they must intervene, what limitations -- if any -- are there on the interim Senate maps they approve?
Did Democrats unduly influence the drawing of California's new 9th congressional district? (Photo: CRC Map)
It should come as little surprise that California's political class is all abuzz over a new and lengthy report on the state's first ever independent redistricting process, one that describes in great detail private machinations apparently employed to help influence the final placement of district lines.
But the reaction has been so predictably partisan -- Republicans calling for a formal investigation, Democrats attacking the report as overblown hype -- that it's hard to discern the substantive jabs from the superficial spin.
Senate Map/CA Redistricting Commission
California's top elections official belives there won't be enough time for a court-appointed panel -- if one is chosen -- to redraw the state's political maps for the 2012 elections.
That's the gist of a legal filing by Secretary of State Debra Bowen in the California Supreme Court fight over the maps drawn by the state's Citizens Redistricting Commission. And it highlights not only a simmering debate over how to interpret the language of 2010's Proposition 20, but the long and bitter history of redistricting fights in California.
Rose Institute Web Image
There are two, and only two, options left at this point for the political districts in which Californians will reside for the next decade: the current maps from the state's citizens redistricting panel or as-yet-to-exist maps drawn by judges.
And that second option -- judicial intervention -- only will happen if opponents prevail in court, the voters step in, or a subset of the 14 commissioners change their vote on August 15.
As California's bold experiment with independent redistricting enters the homestretch, it's clear that drawing political boundaries is neither simple nor without controversy.
And for the 14 men and women picked to do the work, the questions will soon be: can it be done unanimously? And can the work product pass legal muster?
For those who haven't been closely following the months long deliberations of California's first independently drawn political maps, and who will only tune in when the draft maps are released this Friday, prepare to be disappointed. Maybe only a little bit. Maybe a lot.
That's because, try as they might, the 14 men and women picked to oversee the redistricting process can't please everyone.
More competition. More moderate politicians. Less sleazy deal making. More good stuff. Less bad stuff.
Like so many electoral efforts, the two campaigns waged in favor of independent redistricting promised a lot of fixes to California voters tired of dysfunctional governance. Soon... very soon, in fact... the voters are going to get their first look at what they bought.
When an attorney suggested this morning that the men and women who will draw California's political maps could benefit from snuggling up some weekend with a copy of the state's open meetings law
, you could feel the reality set in.
California's newly chosen citizen redistricting experts have got quite a task on their hands, one that officially began today.
Unusual alliances... pointed and sometimes personal arguments... and independent analysis -- all can be found in the newly released draft documents for this November statewide ballot guide.