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As you may recall, a Republican group had asked the California Supreme Court in early December to table the newly drawn state Senate district maps, despite the fact the court had previously declined. The group, called Fairness and Accountability in Redistricting (FAIR), recently filed a petition asking the court to reconsider given the fact that the group has submitted more than 711,000 signatures for a referendum to stop the new maps from being used in next year’s election.
FAIR wants the Supreme Court to prepare for the referendum by either using the previous Senate district maps 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 Supreme Court will hear arguments on January 10th.
The referendum signatures that were submitted to counties are now being verified. Proponents need about 500,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot. Rumor has it that Los Angeles projections are coming in short on the signatures and therefore the referendum effort would have to do a manual signature review.
Since the qualification of the referendum could be in jeopardy, the court then would have to potentially decide whether to identify someone to draw alternative maps should the initiative qualify. Given the qualification status could not be known until March -- the same time as the filing deadline for candidates—this makes for a difficult decision for the court. Put the cart before the horse or let the chips fall where they may?
FAIR argues that the new Senate lines threaten to hurt local influence in Sacramento. Dave Gilliard, spokesman for FAIR stated, “We believe the lines the Commissioner drew for the state Senate did not follow the criteria in the Constitution for compactness or for respecting city and county boarders.”
Citizens Redistricting Commission current chair Stan Forbes said in a statement that he believes there is no reason for the court to stay the maps or appoint a special master to redraw the lines because they were drawn in accordance with the Constitution and other criteria set by the redistricting laws. He also pointed out that the Supreme Court has already decided that the Commission’s maps are in compliance with the Constitution and the criteria contained in Proposition11.