Capitol Alert

AM Alert: California lawmakers defend ‘one person, one vote’

The U.S. Supreme Court, in Washington D.C., will take up a case this fall challenging the principle of “one person, one vote.”
The U.S. Supreme Court, in Washington D.C., will take up a case this fall challenging the principle of “one person, one vote.” The Associated Press file

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take up a case challenging the definition of “one person, one vote,” a principle that for more than 50 years has dictated voting districts should be drawn based on total population. Conservative activists in Texas are seeking a new standard based instead on the number of eligible voters.

The news immediately raised concerns among California politicos, who worried that the state could lose some of its clout in Washington D.C. as congressional districts shift elsewhere, and liberals, who argued it would disproportionately exclude Latinos, immigrants and other minorities from representation.

Evenwel v. Abbott won’t be argued until this fall, with a decision to come next year, but California lawmakers are already weighing in. Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León recently introduced SJR 13, a resolution urging the court to uphold “one person, one vote.”

“This challenge now is nothing more than a cynical and transparent effort to turn back the clock on decades of legal precedent and return an unjust, unequal system of redistricting that could greatly disadvantage diverse and urban communities and deprive millions of American residents, many of whom are either Latino or Asian, of political representation,” de León said in a statement after the case was announced.

His bill, which is co-authored by 25 Democratic senators and 34 Democratic Assembly members, including Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, begins its journey through the Legislature today in the Senate Judiciary Committee, 1:30 p.m. in Room 112 of the Capitol.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla has said he plans to file an amicus brief with the court. “Our country has been down this road before,” he said in a statement. “The politics of exclusion have no place in our nation.”

Earlier this month, De León and dozens of other lawmakers sent Attorney General Kamala Harris a letter urging her to do the same.

BILL ME NOW: With a budget bill sent to the governor, the focus at the Capitol momentarily returns to the legislation that recently passed through its house of origin and is now up for consideration in the other chamber. Among the committees meeting today: the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, 1:30 p.m. in Room 4203, which will hear a bill to legalize electric skateboards, and the Assembly Public Safety Committee, 9 a.m. in Room 126, which will hear a proposal to ban grand jury investigations into police shootings.

TRACK THE LEGISLATURE: What’s influencing lawmakers’ actions? A new data feature in our legislative directory at lets you explore which interests are the biggest givers to each member. You’ll also find key political and census information about every district, including unemployment and poverty rates.

Alexei Koseff: (916) 321-5236, @akoseff