California redistricting may face court, initiative challenges


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The final approval of new legislative districts set off a wave of criticism and early indications that at least some of the plan may be challenged with a referendum.

Republican political consultant Dave Gilliard said Monday that he is working on a petition drive to overturn the state Senate lines -- he wouldn’t say who’s hired his firm -- and is looking into a referendum on the congressional district boundaries. Both maps, he said, harm Republicans.


The California Republican Party is among those considering a ballot challenge through a referendum drive, although a spokesman said the party is not working with Gilliard. Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro said the commission failed to follow the criteria required by law for drawing legislative districts.

Interactive map: Has your district changed?

‘At this point, every California citizen should be more than troubled by the commission’s decision today,’ he said.

At the same time, the president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund said the organization is considering a court challenge.

‘We are looking at compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act,’ MALDEF president and general counsel Thomas A. Saenz said, citing concerns particularly with the state Senate and congressional district lines.

He said the commission declined to create a number of Latino-majority districts that could have been fashioned. ‘That raises a potential issue under the Voting Rights Act,’ he said.


Gilliard said that, at the very least, there’s going to be a referendum effort on the state Senate lines. ‘There’s a tremendous amount of interest in it for the congressional lines as well,’ he said. Decisions will be made within 48 hours, he said, noting that signatures must be gathered within 90 days of the commission’s final action.


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-- Patrick McGreevy

Map: Screenshot of interactive Times’ maps showing changes in California’s U.S. Congress, State Assembly and State Senate Districts.