California State Court Holds City of Santa Monica Election System Violates California Voting Rights Act and CA Constitution; Orders District Elections on July 2 2019

You can find the 71-page statement of decision at this link.

Given the findings of both CVRA liability as well as intentional racial discrimination in using an at-large voting system in violation of the California Constitution, a path forward on appeal seems difficult for the City of Santa Monica, which has spent millions of dollars to keep its system of elections and avoid the creation of districts.

It is possible that Santa Monica will continue to argue on appeal that the CVRA violates the United States Constitution as an impermissible race-based voting law, an argument which could appeal to the conservatives on the Supreme Court should the Court ever take the case. But the independent finding that Santa Monica’s conduct showed intentional racial discrimination which also violated the California Constitution may make this less than an ideal case for the Supreme Court to consider the constitutional question.

In any case, any appeals would next begin in the CA Court of Appeals and then potentially the CA Supreme Court before reaching SCOTUS.

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