Capitol Alert

Los Angeles County sues California over ‘partisan’ redistricting law

Then-Rep. Xavier Becerra, left, and Gov. Jerry Brown share a light moment while the Assembly Committee on the Office of the Attorney General holds a hearing on Becerra’s appointment as California attorney general, in January. A lawsuit filed Monday, Feb. 27, 2017 by Los Angeles County to overturn a 2016 redistricting law names the state and Becerra.
Then-Rep. Xavier Becerra, left, and Gov. Jerry Brown share a light moment while the Assembly Committee on the Office of the Attorney General holds a hearing on Becerra’s appointment as California attorney general, in January. A lawsuit filed Monday, Feb. 27, 2017 by Los Angeles County to overturn a 2016 redistricting law names the state and Becerra. rpench@sacbee.com

The next remap of California’s political lines is more than four years away, but some legal fights already have begun.

Monday, Los Angeles County asked a judge to block a 2016 California law putting a new commission in charge of redrawing county supervisors’ districts after the 2020 census, contending in a lawsuit that the constitution does not allow a “state-imposed experiment in redistricting by partisan, unaccountable and randomly selected commissioners.”

The suit targets last year’s Senate Bill 958 by state Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens. The bill, passed along party lines on the second-to-last-day of session, was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown without comment.

Instead of a political remap overseen by county supervisors, last year’s law creates a 14-member Los Angeles County Citizens Redistricting Commission. The panel’s makeup will reflect the number of voters registered with a political party in the county but, unlike the statewide redistricting panel created by voters to redraw legislative and congressional districts, it excludes voters with no-party preference.

Supporters of SB 958 said the law allows “a broader range of perspectives and voices” to shape supervisorial districts. Monday’s lawsuit, though, argues that the measure “will harm the county and its voters with respect to their self-governance.”

In a statement, Lara criticized the county’s challenge of his bill.

“If the citizens redistricting commission is good enough for the state Legislature and Congress it should be good enough for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors,” he said.

Editor’s note: This post was updated at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 27, 2017 to include comment from Sen. Lara.

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