California Supreme Court Chooses Citizen Redistricting Commission Senate Maps

In a victory for the 61 percent of the California who voted in the 2010 election to expand the 2008 Voters First Act to include congressional districts, in a unanimous 7-0 decision, has upheld the Citizens Redistricting Commission's State Senate maps for use in the upcoming 2012 elections.

In their unanimous decision the Supreme Court stated:

...not only do the Commission-certified Senate districts appear to comply with all of the constitutionally mandated criteria set forth in California Constitution, article XXI, the Commission-certified Senate districts also are a product of what generally appears to have been an open, transparent and nonpartisan redistricting process as called for by the current provisions of article XXI.

The justices also challenged the petitioner's argument that the court should avoid partisan influence with a map proposed by the petitioners which was basically a political party by stating:

As we have explained ante, the redistricting process in California has been completely changed from the earlier process. Under California Constitution, article XXI, redistricting is now performed by a Citizens Redistricting Commission, whose membership and procedural requirements are carefully designed to ensure that redistricting is undertaken on a nonpartisan basis. When a redistricting map adopted by such a nonpartisan entity is challenged by a proposed referendum measure sponsored by one political party, we believe it is unrealistic to maintain that a court should be viewed as improperly intruding into the "political thicket" if it determines, after reviewing the pros and cons of all viable alternative maps in relation to the constitutional scheme and criteria, that the map devised by the nonpartisan Commission is the most appropriate one to be used in an interim election. We also question petitioner's suggestion that a court should be viewed as properly avoiding the same political thicket if it were to decide that the most appropriate map to be used in the interim election is one proposed by the proponent of a referendum sponsored by one political party.

This is the fourth legal decision which has upheld the work of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission. This continuing level of legal review and approval should prove helpful to interested citizens in other states as they attempt to reform their redistricting process.