Breaking News: CA Supreme Court Says 2012 Commission Maps Will Be Used Even if Referendum on Senate Districts Qualifies for the Ballot

You can find the opinion here.  Justin told us it would be so.  What is perhaps most worthy of interest in this case is the concurring opinion of Justice Goodwin Liu, counseling restraint in the area of redistricting. (This is especially noteworthy because Liu was filibustered for a 9th Circuit seat on grounds that he would be a judicial activist.)  Here is how his concurring opinion begins:

More than a half century ago, Justice Felix Frankfurter observed that “[t]he one stark fact that emerges from a study of the history of [legislative] apportionment is its embroilment in politics, in the sense of party contests and party interests.” (Colegrove v. Green (1946) 328 U.S. 549, 554 (plur. opn. of Frankfurter, J.).) Faced with entreaties by litigants seeking judicial intervention in the redistricting process, Justice Frankfurter famously warned that “[c]ourts ought not to enter this political thicket.” (Id. at p. 556.) Although the law has not adopted the uncompromising version of this principle urged by Justice Frankfurter (see, e.g., Reynolds v. Sims (1964) 377 U.S. 533; Baker v. Carr (1962) 369 U.S. 186), his admonition continues to resonate each decade when courts are asked to decide what are fundamentally political disputes. Judicial restraint is especially important in the context of legislative redistricting because, as the high court recently observed, “experience has shown the difficulty of defining neutral legal principles in this area.” (Perry v. Perez (2012) 565 U.S. __ [2012 WL 162610, 2012 U.S. Lexis 908].)

And here is how it ends:

In a future case, the court may be divided with regard to which map should serve as an interim map and, closely related, whether and when to issue a decision on that important issue. Those questions will inevitably play out against a backdrop of partisan interests. I hope the court is correct that prudence will be sufficient to guide us out of the thicket. But I believe the language of our Constitution already provides the guidance we need.


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