State lawmakers ask AG Kamala Harris to weigh in on redistricting case

39 lawmakers have signed a letter urging AG Kamala Harris to file a brief backing 'one person, one vote'

Dozens of state lawmakers have joined Senate leader Kevin de León in backing the "one-person, one-vote" doctrine to determine voting districts, in anticipation of a pending U.S. Supreme Court case that could overturn that principle.

Thirty-nine members of the Legislature, all Democrats, sent a letter last week to Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris requesting that she file an amicus brief in support of basing political districts on total population, as is currently done.

The court case could throw that calculus into question, as plaintiffs want to use the number of eligible voters to determine districts. The change could have major repercussions in states such as California, where certain areas have large concentrations of noncitizen residents.

The lawmakers' letter, which closely mirrors an earlier statement by De León , slams the court case as a "cynical and transparent effort to turn back the clock on decades of legal precedent and return an unjust, unequal system of redistricting."

"In California, overturning 'one person, one vote' could lead to a system of political segregation that only counts three-fifths of our population and essentially ignores the rest," the letter reads.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments this fall and issue a ruling next year.

David Beltran, a spokesman for Harris, said the attorney general is monitoring the case, Evenwel vs. Abbott.

“We are well aware of this case, and the possibility of the Supreme Court  revisiting ‘one person, one vote’ in Evenwel v. Abbott. We will carefully consider what role California will have in this case," Beltran said.

The issue will continue to percolate in the Capitol in the coming weeks; legislative leaders are also planning to introduce a resolution urging the Supreme Court to uphold the existing 'one-person, one-vote' standard.

Follow @melmason for more on California government and politics.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
62°