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GOP lawsuit challenges California congressional redistricting

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A former U.S. representative from California’s Central Valley is leading a Republican legal challenge to newly redrawn congressional districts. This is the third challenge to the voter-approved citizens redistricting map.

Former GOP Congressman George Radanovich and four others filed the lawsuit with the state Supreme Court. The suit alleges that the Citizens Redistricting Commission violated the Voting Rights Act by intentionally diluting African-American votes in three Los Angeles County districts to protect incumbents.

UC Berkeley Political Science Professor Bruce Cain says Republicans have "often pushed Voting Rights claims when they really object to the plan on other grounds."

Professor Cain says the GOP sees a high court challenge as its best option, because most justices on the state’s highest court are Republican appointees.

The suit asks the court to appoint a special master who would draw new lines. Cain says with the primary just nine months away, the lawsuit creates a great deal of uncertainty. "If the court decides that there’s something fundamentally flawed about these lines, they’re going to appoint a court master. The court master will then have a very short period of time to go ahead and draw new lines or possibly take the basis of these lines and then just do a few corrections. But no one knows."

One of those three Congressional seats mentioned in the lawsuit is held by Democrat Karen Bass. She says the "Republican’s agenda" is clear. “It’s to reduce African-American presence in Congress." She says the districts in question "have never been African American only Congressional Districts, they have always been multi-racial. This is a clear attempt to segregate and reduce African American representation in Congress.”

A second GOP lawsuit filed two weeks ago challenges the state Senate district lines. Cain says a Republican effort to gather signatures for a ballot proposition challenging the citizens redistricting plan appears to have stalled.