Supreme Court Denies Challenge to Senate Lines


The California Supreme Court ruled Friday that state Senate maps drawn by the citizens commission will be used in this year's elections, despite the pending referendum to overturn them.

As you may recall, the issue came before the High Court after a Republican-backed group-- Fairness and Accountability in Redistricting (FAIR)--filed signatures with county elections offices in a referendum to overturn Senate maps drawn by the citizens commission.

Californians will decide the fate of the newly drawn Senate districts in November if 504,760 of the signatures are from valid voters.  Legislative candidates must file and run their campaigns before then, however, so justices needed to identify district maps to be in effect immediately.

County elections offices face a February 24th deadline for certifying FAIR's referendum signatures.  Thus far, they have verified 57,761 of 80,127 signatures checked.  If the percentage of valid signatures holds steady, 72 percent, the referendum would qualify for the ballot.

Twenty Senate seats are up for grabs this year - and the results carry high-stakes politically.  GOP officials contend that the new, commission drawn lines would give Democrats a strong chance of gaining two additional seats in the Senate, enough to gain the two-thirds supermajority needed to raise taxes or fees.

The Supreme Court previously rejected a lawsuit filed by FAIR that contended the commission's Senate maps illegally dilute Latino voting clout in parts of the state and violate criteria established by voters in a 2008 ballot measure.