SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – As a November referendum looms, California’s high court ruled that the state must use the latest Senate map for the June and November 2012 elections.
“The [election] commission’s certified state Senate map is the alternative most consistent with the constitutional scheme and criteria embodied in the federal and state constitutions,” Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye wrote for the court.
An independent 14-member commission drew the map in 2011. At oral argument held earlier this month, challengers said the map should be suspended and that the referendum would likely have enough voter signatures to qualify.
With no apparent interim remedy for voters, this left the Supreme Court in a bind. State Senate candidates must file for June primary election next month, and, by then, it would be too late to draw new maps.
“It seems to me that argument leads to an impossible situation,” Justice Marvin Baxter said at the hearing.
Though “it cannot reasonably be predicted whether the proposed referendum is likely to qualify for the ballot,” Cantil-Sakauye noted in the ruling that these circumstances should not preclude the court from acting expeditiously to render a decision.
“On the other hand, we emphasize that our decision does not mean that we invariably will conclude that the commission’s certified map or maps always should be used on an interim basis in circumstances similar to the setting we address today,” she added.