The California Supreme Court unanimously upheld the Citizens Redistricting Commission's new State Senate maps on Friday. The Court's decision means that Democrats will likely secure a two-third majority in the State Senate come fall, which would allow them to pass tax bills without Republican cooperation, reports The Sacramento Bee.
The Citizens Redistricting Commission -- a new body created through a 2008 ballot measure to adjust voting districts after the decadal census -- released new voting district maps in August 2011. Republicans challenged the implementation of the senate and congressional maps on constitutional and statutory grounds, and lost.
Shortly thereafter, Julie Vandermost and Fairness and Accountability in Redistricting (FAIR) submitted the requisite number of signatures to challenge the maps through a referendum measure on the November 2012 general election ballot. Vandermost filed a petition asking the California Supreme Court to stay implementation of the maps pending the outcome of the referendum.
Vandermost had proposed three alternatives to implementing the Citizens Redistricting Commission's map: keeping the current map, (with modifications to three districts that experienced substantial population shifts), a "nesting" map in which each Senate district would be made up of two of the unchallenged Assembly districts, and a new map drawn created by Republican redistricting expert Tony Quinn, reports Metropolitan News-Enterprise.
Noting potential conflicts between the proposed alternatives, Voting Rights Act, and equal representation principles, the court decided that the Citizen Redistricting Commission's map was "clearly the most appropriate map to be used in the 2012 state Senate elections even if the proposed referendum qualifies for the ballot."
Despite Republicans' arguments that the new plans unfairly benefitted Democrats, the court described the Commission's maps as "a product of what generally appears to have been an open, transparent and nonpartisan redistricting process," reports the Los Angeles Times. Republicans could, however, prevail at the polls in November if voters approve a referendum on the Commission's maps.
- Vandermost v. Bowen (California Courts)
- CA Supreme Court to Broadcast Statewide Redistricting Case (FindLaw's California Case Law blog)
- Interim Texas Redistricting Maps Trashed by Supreme Court (FindLaw's Decided)
- Justice Department Signs Off on California Redistricting (Los Angeles Times)