October 26, 2011
The Supreme Court today denied two different writ petitions that were filed to challenge the first legislative district maps drawn by the new California Citizens Redistricting Commission. (The writ proceeding filings are here; the dockets for the two proceedings are here and here.) We haven’t seen the orders yet, but, from the dockets, it looks like the petitions were summarily denied.
If the petitions were summarily denied, it raises interesting questions about whether the petitioners were entitled to a fuller review on the merits, including oral argument and a written opinion. Article XXI, section 3(b)(1) of the state constitution provides, “The California Supreme Court has original and exclusive jurisdiction in all proceedings in which a certified final map is challenged.” The Supreme Court has previously said, “When an extraordinary writ proceeding is the only avenue of appellate review, a reviewing court’s discretion is quite restricted. Referring to the writ of mandate, this court has said: ‘”Its issuance is not necessarily a matter of right, but lies rather in the discretion of the court, but where one has a substantial right to protect or enforce, and this may be accomplished by such a writ, and there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, he [or she] is entitled as a matter of right to the writ, or perhaps more correctly, in other words, it would be an abuse of discretion to refuse it.”‘” (Powers v. City of Richmond (1995) 10 Cal.4th 85, 113-114.)
Despite today’s rulings, the Supreme Court could still get involved in the redistricting process if a referendum to challenge any maps is likely to qualify for the ballot and if the referendum succeeds.