The U.S. Supreme court last month denied the petition for writ of mandamus filed by Citizens for Fair Representation, the non-profit arm of the State of Jefferson movement.
The group filed the writ in August asking for the highest court in the nation to intervene in a case that is currently before 9th District Court Judge Kimberly Mueller.
That lawsuit, filed in 2017 against California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, argues that the system of apportioning legislative districts equally by population has diluted the votes of rural residents and denied them representation.
Although Jefferson spokeswoman Sally Rapoza, in a statement, said the group is disappointed that the U.S. Supreme court didn’t intervene in the case by sending the original complaint directly to a three-judge panel for deliberation, Jefferson supporters will continue to push for California to be split into two more manageable states, or for the State Legislature to resolve California’s urban-rural divide.
“The denial of the petition does not set us back any further than where we were when we filed it,” Rapoza said. “We still have an active case in Federal Court seeking restoration of our representation.”
Lew Manor, of the Colusa County Jefferson Committee, said that while they were “cautiously optimistic” that the U.S. Supreme Court would look at the case, the realty was that it was just one of many petitions before them.
“Our belief was that due to the nature of our request, it would be held in a little higher importance, but since staff have a lot to say in what gets presented to them, it was likely that the court may not have even seen it.” Manor said.
Manor said the Supreme Court typically only hears or writes on about 1.5 percent of the 7,000 to 8,000 cases filed each year.
The lack of action by the Supreme Court now puts the lawsuit back in the hands of Judge Mueller, who previously stated 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.
“She still has only one legal option and that is to give us a three-judge court, though she has threatened dismissal,” Manor said. “Our options from here are wait until we get the decision from the judge. If it isn’t what we believe should happen, then we can appeal to the whole 9th District Court.”
Meanwhile, members of Jefferson committees throughout the 20 or so Northern California counties that have signed on for a state split will continue to raise money to push the matter through the courts, with the hope that someday the lack of representation for rural communities will be resolved.
“This is too important for us in the North State,” Manor said. “California is a wreck, and it will be a long time changing if it ever does.”