Judge Dismisses Demand for 1,200 More California Lawmakers

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – A federal judge threw out a California coalition’s lawsuit Thursday that sought to add thousands of seats to the state’s Legislature.

The lawsuit was led largely by secessionists from the rural northern part of California who seek ultimately to create a new state called Citizens for Fair Representation. They claimed that the hard cap on the number of state senators and representatives causes residents to be underrepresented.

“This neglect of ‘We the People’ as the organic basis for this Nation’s self-governance stems from the cap the California government placed on the number of Senators (limited to 40) and Assembly Members (limited to 80) in 1862, when the population of the State was less 420,000 people,” the lawsuit said.

U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller dismissed their complaint, which named California’s Secretary of State Alex Padilla as defendant, with leave to amend. Her ruling says the complaint is “fraught with non-justiciable political questions.” Mueller noted that the group’s lawsuit asks the federal court to alter the California Constitution, something beyond its jurisdiction.

“Doing so would run afoul of the Supreme Court’s wisdom articulated in Baker,” Mueller said in reference to Baker v. Carr, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that allowed federal courts to decide redistricting cases. “It would require the court to legislate, a task committed to the legislative branch; it would require the court to make policy determinations beyond the realm of judicial reasoning; and it would require the court to fashion a remedy without judicially discoverable and manageable standards to do so.”

The plaintiffs previously stated that they wanted to reach a goal of one legislator for every 30,000. Such a plan would have added over 1,200 seats to state Legislature. Currently, California’s senators represent more than 930,000 residents each and assembly members represent more than 465,000. Both numbers are the highest of any state.

Gary Zerman, the plaintiffs’ attorney, did not return a call for comment made after business hours.

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