Shaking up California Elections
A Supreme Court ruling could limit the
influence of non-voting immigrants.
(Los Angeles Daily News) - California politics could be shaken up this spring when the U.S. Supreme Court hands down its decisions in two potentially landmark cases.
The framers of the U.S. Constitution thought they were keeping the judiciary out of politics, but it hasn’t worked out that way. Today the Supreme Court exercises so much power over our lives that if one of the justices mentions retirement, half the country experiences chest pains. And the stress is not unwarranted: Policies that were created by judges can be reversed by judges.
Right now the Supreme Court is considering whether to change the rules that control state redistricting, and whether to abolish mandatory union dues for public employees. The impact of the two decisions could make California’s predictable elections a lot less predictable.
In the redistricting case, Evenwel v. Abbott, the issue is whether Texas should be allowed — perhaps even required — to draw its legislative district boundaries based on eligible voters instead of total population.
|The 5th State Assembly District|
California state legislate seats are the largest in the U.S. with 500,000 people in each.
They are far, far too large for anyone to represent the people or to campaign in.
For example, an Assembly district might have a population of half a million people but far fewer citizens who are eligible to vote. The court’s ruling could result in the district’s boundaries being redrawn to take in new geographical areas with more citizens and fewer immigrants. The decision could scramble the political map in Texas and potentially in other states with a high proportion of non-citizens, including California.
Until the mid-20th century, the federal courts stayed out of state redistricting. That changed when Chief Justice Earl Warren decided to get involved.
As governor of California in the 1940s, Warren had opposed a plan to draw district lines based on population instead of geographical area. At the time, rural Senate districts with fewer voters had the same political power as urban districts jammed with voters. The votes of city residents were, in a sense, unequal to the votes of rural residents. Los Angeles was outvoted on everything.
As chief justice, Warren had second thoughts about the fairness of that arrangement. In two landmark decisions, Baker v. Carr and Reynolds v. Sims, the court imposed a “one person, one vote” standard that required voting districts to have roughly equal populations.
But the Evenwel case could be a new landmark.Read More . . . .
A Legislature that Represents the People
In California the 80 State Assembly members represent districts of 500,000 people. With super-sized districts only millionaires or candidates willing to be bought off by big special interest money can win election to office.
Meanwhile in Pennsylvania the 203 members of their lower house represent districts of only 63,000 people. Average people have the ability to seek and win public office.
It is way past time to reform the California legislature.
Pennsylvania House of Representatives