GOP Asking Court to Halt Use of New Calif. Senate Districts

Tuesday, 10 Jan 2012 02:45 PM

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Republicans today will ask the California Supreme Court to prohibit the use of new state Senate districts in this year's elections.

They want the delay so they can try to get on the ballot an initiative aimed at overturning the maps, reports KPCC-FM in Los Angeles.

Republicans say their initiative is likely to qualify for the November ballot. That would trigger a provision of the state constitution that would halt use of the maps this year, reports KPCC.

The new districts were created by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, an independent panel approved by voters. It was established to take authority for drawing political boundaries away from the state Legislature in response to decades of gerrymandering that preserved districts for incumbents and the two major parties.

District maps drawn by the 14-member panel were certified Aug. 15 for Congress, the state Assembly and Senate, and the state Board of Equalization, which administers sales and use taxes.

The commission's boundaries are expected to lead to more Democratic-leaning districts because of the state's shifting demographics. Democrats have a better chance of reaching the critical two-thirds majority in the Senate than under the old maps, which would bring the party one step closer to being able to approve tax increases without Republican support, according to KPCC.

Republicans contend the state Senate maps do not comply with the Voting Rights Act and did not meet the constitutional criteria for drawing the maps in a transparent process and in trying to keep communities together.

The newly drawn Assembly districts are not being challenged, but a separate lawsuit by Republicans is challenging the commission's congressional districts.

The challenge to the state Senate district was filed by Southern California resident Julie Vandermost. The California Republican Party is helping fund the ballot initiative but is not a participant in the case that will be heard today by the high court, according to KPCC.

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