Jefferson lawsuit to move forward in district court

The lawsuit filed last year by Citizens for Fair Representation against California Secretary of State Alex Padilla will be heard in a Sacramento courtroom on June 1 and June 15.

The decision could ultimately decide the fate on whether 23 Northern California counties could break away from California to form their own state.

Jefferson proponents are calling for Northern California residents to attend the hearing and show their support for Judge Kimberly Mueller to advance the matter to a three-judge court rather than simply dismiss it, as requested by the state.

“She has been holding us off and asking a lot of questions,” said Jefferson proponent Lew Manor, of Colusa. “We believe all those questions have been answered.”

The lawsuit, filed last May, alleges that the system of apportioning legislative districts equally by population has diluted the votes of rural residents and denied them representation at the State Capitol.

Manor believes U.S. Supreme Court precedence (Shapirio v. McManus) has given their lawsuit the standing to move forward, but understands outside political pressure could be a formidable adversary.

The Supreme Court, however, previously ruled that federal district courts are required to refer cases to a three-judge panel when plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of the apportionment of congressional districts.

Jefferson leaders believe the same principle should apply to state assembly and senate districts.

Citizens for Fair Representation ultimately hopes to compel state lawmakers to either create a better balance of representation at the State Capitol, or allow California to be split into two more manageable states.

Manor said they do not agree with a ballot measure calling for California to be divided into two or three states, each with large population centers, because it would not correct the lack of representation for rural residents. Neither do they support California succeeding from the union to form its own country, an idea they find unconstitutional.

Manor said the steps the Jefferson Movement have taken are the only legal means to divide a state, which has been done four times since the formation of the United States.

Manor has been making the rounds to the Colusa County Board of Supervisors and city councils of Colusa and Williams asking for their support, and will continue to do so until the judge makes her decision.

“It’s crunch time,” he said. “And this is a really big deal.”

Manor hopes that people take off work to make a strong showing at the Robert Matsui Courthouse, 501 I St., in Sacramento, where the case will be heard at 10 AM on Friday, June 1. A second hearing is scheduled for 10 AM on Friday, June 15.

“We’ve always had a few hundred people in attendance, but we would like to get 1,000 down there,” he said. “Not everyone can fit in the courtroom, but they can be outside with their flags. We need to make some noise.”

Manor said several groups in other states have been following the Jefferson movement closely, with many agreeing that splitting off rural areas into separate states could be the only solution to the imbalance of representation that was created by the Supreme Court decisions of the 1960s, which gives the greatest decision-making power to large urban areas. ■