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Dispute over state Senate districts heads back to California high court

December 2, 2011 |  3:20 pm

The feud over using new district maps in next year’s election for the state Senate returned to California’s highest court Friday.

A group of Republicans asked the state Supreme Court to appoint a special master to prepare for deciding the boundaries of Senate districts in the event a referendum asking voters to overturn districts drawn by a citizens commission qualifies for the ballot.

The group Fairness & Accountability in Redistricting recently turned in 711,000 signatures in hopes of qualifying the ballot measure to repeal the Senate district boundaries adopted by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.  County clerks are conducting a random sample to determine if there are enough valid signatures for the referendum to qualify.

“Because we filed well over 700,000 signatures, we are able to ask the court to consider interim remedies when the referendum qualifies and to stay the use of the Redistricting Commission's Senate maps for the 2012 elections,” said Sen. Mimi Walters (R-Laguna Niguel).

Not so fast, said Stan Forbes, chairman of the Citizens Redistricting Commission. He noted that the Supreme Court has already issued a ruling that the panel’s work complied with the law. "Therefore, I see no reasonable rationale for the court to stay the maps or appoint special masters because of a referendum whose qualification for the ballot, or passage if it did qualify, remains in doubt," Forbes said.

-- Patrick McGreevy, reporting from Sacramento