Federal judge dismisses final redistricting lawsuit
A federal court judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by Republican plaintiffs seeking to overturn California’s new congressional district maps, eliminating one of the last remaining challenges to the work of the independent citizens commission that drew new political lines for state and congressional offices.
U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson on Thursday dismissed the suit brought by former Rep. George Radanovich and four other Republicans, who alleged the commission had improperly used race as a factor in creating the new districts. The suit cited three Los Angeles County districts that were drawn to encourage the election of African American representatives.
The plaintiffs had turned to federal court after the California Supreme Court turned down GOP challenges to congressional and state Senate district maps.
“Once again the work of the Citizens Redistricting Commission has been affirmed against baseless partisan attacks,” said Jeanne Raya, currently the commission’s chair, in a written statement.
“California voters created [the commission] in order to get partisan politics out” of creating new political districts, done every 10 years after the Census to adjust for population changes, Raya said. She added, “The federal court has found that the commission’s process complied with the law and was fair and representative.”
A representative for the plaintiffs could not be immediately reached for comment.
The only remaining challenge to the commission’s work is a potential referendum on state Senate districts. Elections officials have until Feb. 24 to determine whether there are enough valid signatures to put the matter before voters in November. However, the state high court has already ruled that the commission’s new districts will be used in this year’s elections and would be changed only if voters get a say and reject them.
-- Jean Merl
Photo: Members of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission sign the new maps in August 2011. Credit: Associated Press