For more than two decades, Californians have struggled to reform the state’s electoral process, to make it less partisan and public officials more responsive. After fits and starts beginning in 1990, state voters approved an independent redistricting commission, open primaries and term limits that now allow state legislators to serve up to 12 years. Unfortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court could significantly undermine the reform effort with its review of two redistricting cases, one out of Arizona, the other out of Texas, and both with profound implications for California and the nation.
The legal issues seemingly had already been settled by the high court but they’re now being reopened in cases brought by conservative groups with partisan agendas.
Ironically, notes UC Irvine professor Richard Hasen, an election law expert, those groups are asking the Supreme Court to limit state discretion, to undermine federalism principles conservatives usually embrace.
The Arizona case challenges voters’ creation of an independent redistricting commission. The U.S. Constitution vests power to set rules for congressional elections with state “legislatures.”