Op-Ed: Fair and independent redistricting? Los Angeles County does it already
“John Doar, Esq. & Richard Simon, Esq.”
It is no secret that redistricting continues to be a sore point for both Democrats and Republicans.
However, recent political developments suggest that the issue is not necessarily as controversial as it has been in the past.
In California history, there have been no major legal battles over the issue, and the issue appears to be largely resolved. In short, the Supreme Court has stated that a party may not prevent a state legislature from drawing redistricting lines.
The Supreme Court’s statement, “Redistricting is a legislative and not a judicial function, and it is for legislatures to assess where population lines fall and adopt legislative solutions,” appeared in 1996 in an opinion authored by Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
The Rehnquist opinion has come to be viewed as an important and pivotal political development that has the power to affect future redistricting decisions.
The case involved the 1996 election of California assemblymen, who were elected for districts that included portions of the state that had been redrawn in the previous election.
According to California law, district lines must be redrawn every 10 years. Because the Redistricting Board, which had drawn districts, had only drawn district lines in 1997 for districts in which the previous legislature had not redrawn the lines, they were invalid.
However, the California Supreme Court ruled that because the current district lines were valid, the current legislature was free to redraw them.
In 1997, California Republicans appealed the decision to the state Supreme Court. However, a three-judge panel heard the appeal and decided the case without hearing oral arguments.
In 1999, the United States Supreme Court decided to hear the case of Davis v. Federal Election Commission. The Supreme Court unanimously decided the case when hearing oral argument on May 18, 2000 and announced that it would hear the case on June 27, 2000.
Chief Justice Rehnquist, who wrote the Rehnquist opinion in 1996, dissented from the decision to hear Davis. Chief Justice Rehnquist argued that because redistricting is the business of legislatures, it was not