Republican-backed group battles against redistricting maps
September 21, 2011
A Republican-backed group announced that it plans to file a petition in the state Supreme Court on Thursday to block newly drawn Senate maps from going into effect.
The petition, filed by Sacramento attorney Charles Bell Jr. on behalf of Fairness and Accountability in Redistricting (FAIR), challenges the work of a 14-member Citizens Redistricting Commission panel charged with reshaping California’s political lines as unconstitutional.
“The principal grounds are that the senate maps violate State Constitution criteria of compactness, contiguity and unnecessary division of two counties, and fail to draw districts that would afford Latino/Hispanic voters an opportunity to elect candidates of choice under section two of the federal Voting Rights Act,” the petition says.
However, FAIR’s petition does not mention that some political watchers contend the new maps could give Democrats a real shot at winning 27 seats — a two-thirds majority — in the state Senate. Such a supermajority would allow Democrats in the upper house to raise taxes without a single vote from Republicans, the Recorder said.
“The California Citizens Redistricting Commission is confident that its final district maps will withstand any and all legal challenges,” commission spokesman Rob Wilcox said in an email to the Recorder. “The commission followed the U.S. and California constitutions in drawing the district maps in an open and transparent process.”
FAIR needs 504,760 signatures by Nov. 14 to force a referendum on the Senate maps. The Recorder said that more than 100,000 registered voters have already signed the petition.
If voters reject the maps, the state Supreme Court would then appoint a special master to adjust the boundaries.