The refreshingly un-gerrymandered voting districts unveiled by California's new Citizens Redistricting Commission in June have a damn good chance of going to stone, thanks to the California Supreme Court's big “F you” to whiny Republicans today.
Seven justices up in San Francisco reportedly took one look at the GOP-backed lawsuits — which alleged the largely blue, largely incumbent-ousting districts were unconstitutional, or some BS like that — and threw them back in the plaintiffs' faces. (Well, a month-long look, but that's pretty brief for messy high-court litigation.)
“The petitioners' briefs were really crappy,” Kathay Feng at nonpartisan org Common Cause tells LA Weekly's Hillel Aron today. (Aron has covered the redistricting battle at length, from the lowest low of California's gerrymandering debacle to the soft revolution that ended it.)
And apparently, the Supreme Court agrees.
“I don't know if they just put their B team on it or whatever,” adds Feng. “I felt bad for them.”
But even the slimiest A team might find it difficult to prove that de-rigging the election process so that every community is represented and incumbents aren't given the automatic right-of-way is somehow violating the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (which protects minority voters).
Anyway, time to move on. Now that those two lawsuits are in the trash where they should be, two challenges to the commission's maps remain. And they appear to be even weaker:
The first is a ballot initiative for 2012 that would ask voters to accept or reject the new map for State Senate voting districts (right). However — not only are the initiative's backers way short of the 600,000 signatures needed to get it on the ballot, according to Feng, but Common Cause just filed a complaint against them with the FPPC, claiming they haven't been disclosing to signers where they got $1 million-plus to run the campaign.
“The law is you must reveal your sources,” says Feng. “It's supposed to be printed on every single petition.”
(Not that it isn't crazy obvious who's making it rain on this thing: the very GOP candidates who stand to lose their kushy seats at the helm of California's political machine.)
The last legal challenge to the citizen maps should be the simplest to bowl over. Ward Connerly, that enigmatic black dude who wiped out affirmative action, is heading down a familiar path: His lawsuit says race and ethnicity should not have been considered when commissioners were initially selected. And it's a real stretch, especially now that we're way past that stage in the redistricting battle.
Interestingly, it's also the polar opposite of the lawsuits expected to come out of the separate, L.A. County-specific redistricting battle going down on a local level — in which minority groups say a new majority-Latino district must be formed, in the name of civil rights. (We'd love to see Connerly and L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas step into the debate ring on that one.)
But yeah. All skin color aside, we're mostly just glad, today, to move a few steps further from those lopsided political monstrosities that have long been the Golden State's ridiculously undemocratic voting districts.
R.I.P. Ribbon of Shame — can't say we'll be missing you much.