The Supreme Court today agreed to hear on the merits the writ petition challenging legislation designed to dismantle California’s redevelopment agencies, and the court will do so on an expedited basis. The court also stayed part of the legislation, Justice Kennard dissenting as to the stay order. The court is exercising its original jurisdiction — no lower court has ruled in this case — even though the legislation itself appears to require challenges to the legislation to be brought only in Sacramento Superior Court.

The court set an expedited briefing schedule. The parties’ briefing is to be completed by September 24 and replies to any amicus briefs are due by October 7. The court order says that “[t]he briefing schedule is designed to facilitate oral argument as early as possible in 2011, and a decision before January 15, 2012.” The writ petition had asked for a decision by December 20. (It’s possible that a proposed briefing schedule submitted by the parties, which we have not seen, suggested a later decision target date.)

This is a fast case handling, faster than for the Prop. 8 case. If the court sticks to the schedule it set today, there will be a redevelopment decision just 5 months after the court has agreed to hear the case. For Prop. 8, oral argument is being held 7 months after the case was accepted, with the opinion not due for 90 days after that. The redevelopment case, however, might not get quite the express treatment that the state-employee-furlough and line-item-veto cases got last year; they were decided less than 4 months after the court agreed to hear them.

With the redevelopment and Prop. 8 cases, and likely fast court action on anticipated redistricting matters, the Supreme Court will show that it can move very quickly when it wants to. The Brinker parties must be jealous.