California’s new electoral maps just cleared a major hurdle, thanks to a unanimous ruling today by the California Supreme Court to deny two challenges to the maps, which were created through the citizen-driven redistricting process.
The entire seven-member court took part in the ruling, which challenged the validity of the Congressional and state Senate maps.
The plaintiffs – Orange County GOP activist Julie Vandermost in the Senate lawsuit and former GOP congressman George Radanovich in the congressional lawsuit – have not yet commented on the defeat. They had argued that the maps did not comply with the Voting Rights Act.
California Forward Deputy Director Zabrae Valentine said the ruling underscores the critical importance of redistricting reform.
“The Citizens Redistricting Commission took the process out of Sacramento’s political ‘back rooms’ and with the use of 21st Century technology created a new and vital tool for democracy in California,” she said.
“These maps are a major step forward toward greater government transparency and public accountability,” said Valentine. “For the first time in the state’s history our political boundaries were created in the full light of day, allowing ordinary citizens the opportunity to weigh in on the process.”
The maps were certified by the Citizens Redistricting Commission on August 15, after a months’ long process. In addition to the Congressional and state Senate maps, the 14-member commission also drew maps for the state Assembly and Board of Equalization districts.
The independent citizen commission was created to draw Legislative and Board of Equalization districts by voter-approved Proposition 11 in 2008, which California Forward and the California Forward Action Fund endorsed. Proposition 20 added Congressional lines to the process in 2010. A referendum challenge to the new maps is also in the works, but it is unclear whether enough signatures will be gathered to put it on the ballot for November 2012. Given today’s ruling, the new maps are expected to take effect in June 2012.