It’s still theoretically possible that the U.S. Supreme Court will prolong the redistricting case against the L. A. County Board of Supervisors with further review and decision. But Monday’s high court ruling allows the planned special election to go forward next month in the newly aligned 1st District. That means the board’s membership will change no matter how the legalities are finally resolved.
The high court has been the last hope of the conservative bloc that controls county government. They have been fighting this case for almost two years and the taxpayers’ legal bills are at the $5-million mark. Both a federal judge in Los Angeles and an appeals court in San Francisco had agreed that the board discriminated when its five white, male members watered down potential Latino voting strength in 1981 to keep themselves in power. Monday the Supreme Court could have disagreed, but it didn’t.
The high court rejected an emergency request by the county to postpone the Jan. 22 election to fill the 1st district seat currently held by retiring Supervisor Pete Schabarum. So even if the justices later decide to hear more legal arguments, it’s curtains for Pete. And even if the high court ordered further hearings, all that’s likely to change is the new district lines. The fact that county officials discriminated against the region’s largest minority will remain a disgraceful part of the record. So, it appears, will the fact that the board majority stubbornly refused to give up when even the U.S. Supreme Court signaled that they were losers.