The California Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to take up the city of Palmdale’s appeals in a voting rights lawsuit it lost last year. The high court’s decision is the latest in a series of legal setbacks the city has faced since a Superior Court judge last year ruled Palmdale was in violation of the California Voting Rights Act and ordered it to hold a new election with council members chosen by geographic district. The trial judge said the current city council, elected at large, could not hold office after July 9. The city appealed parts of the ruling but the appellate court upheld the trial judge, prompting Palmdale officials to turn to the state’s high court.
The city has continued to conduct business through its at-large council and attorneys for the plaintiffs are considering asking the trial court to hold the city in contempt. Nearly 200 city voters also have petitioned the governor to appoint a panel to oversee a new election.
During the trial, the plaintiffs successfully held that the city’s at-large voting system had kept minorities from electing representatives of their choice due to racially polarized voting. Dividing the city into districts would improve their chances of electing at least some, they argued.