California Supreme Court upholds new state Senate maps for 2012 elections; Democrats could gain super majority

The California Supreme Court building
The California Supreme Court building
Steve Rhodes/Flickr (by cc-nc-nd)

The citizen’s commission California voters established to redraw the state’s political lines scored a victory Friday in California's Supreme Court.

California’s highest court ruled in a unanimous 7-0 decision that the Citizen’s Redistricting Commission’s newly certified state Senate maps will be used in this year’s primary and general elections — even if a referendum to overturn them qualifies for the November ballot.

"We believe that the use of the Commission’s maps for the upcoming elections is important for the stability of the electoral process in California," said Peter Yao, the current Chair of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission. "It is regrettable that these challenges, based on partisan self-interest, have cost precious taxpayer dollars to defend the work of the people’s Commission.”

Attorneys for the California Republican Party had asked the Court to stay the new Senate boundaries until voters get a chance to decide if the new districts are fair.

Republicans say they’re politically biased and unconstitutional, suggesting that the court instead keep the maps drawn in 2001 or have a special master draw up alternative district maps.

The California Supreme Court justices disagreed. In a unanimous opinion, they wrote, “After reviewing the pros and cons of each of these proposed alternatives in light of the constitutional scheme and criteria ... we conclude ... that the Commission’s certified map is clearly the most appropriate map to be used” in the 2012 state Senate elections.

If the new maps stick, Republicans could lose two seats in the state Senate. That would give Democrats a super majority.

This story has been updated.