Jefferson supporters push ahead despite obstacles

A lawsuit brought against California Secretary of State Alex Padilla by Citizens for Fair Representation, a group affiliated with the State of Jefferson movement, may get the ear of the U.S. Supreme Court sooner rather than later.

Colusa County Jefferson Committee spokesman Lew Manor told the Board of Supervisors last week that attorneys for Citizens for Fair Representation will appear before the highest court in the nation via a telephone conference hearing on Sept. 24, which will also include the attorneys representing the state.

Manor said the group filed a writ of mandamus last month asking for the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in the case after Federal District Court Judge Kimberly Mueller denied the plaintiffs’ motion for a three-judge court, where they believe it legally belongs.
“She is threatening to dismiss our case which is illegal for her to do,” Manor said.

Citizens for Fair Representation originally filed a lawsuit against Padilla in federal court in May of 2017, arguing that the system of apportioning legislative districts equally by population has diluted the votes of rural residents and denied them representation.

Mueller ruled, however, that the complaint was “fraught with non-justiciable political questions,” and noted that the group’s lawsuit asks the federal court to alter the California Constitution, something beyond its jurisdiction. The same argument was used by the state last month to block a three-state split initiative from reaching the November ballot.

Manor said that argument hasn’t stopped Citizens for Fair Representation from plunging ahead to get the case before a three-judge panel, which would automatically lead to the U.S. Supreme Court having to decide the matter. Manor said in the earlier hearing, Mueller even stated that she wished she had two other judges to help her make a decision.

“Well, that is what she is suppose to do,” Manor said. “That is the law.”

Jefferson supporters believe a U.S. Supreme Court precedence (Shapirio v. McManus) gives their lawsuit the standing to move forward, but Manor said last week that there is enormous political pressure opposing a state split.

The group hopes to eventually compel state lawmakers to either create a better balance of representation at the State Capitol, or allow California to be divided into two more manageable states, which the U.S. Congress would also have to approve.

Manor said Citizens for Fair Representation believes they have everything on their side as they prepare to speak to the U.S. Supreme Court later this month, but only “if that means anything anymore.”