Redistricting Bill Draws Digs at Bench Makeup

Lawmakers unexpectedly resurrected redistricting reform Wednesday afternoon, but not before taking a few more shots at judges’ potential role in drawing California’s political boundaries.

The state Senate eked out the bare-minimum 27 votes needed to pass SCA 3, which would strip politicians’ redistricting power and give it to an “independent commission.” Commission members would be selected from a pool of 55 candidates compiled by 10 retired superior and/or appellate court judges.

Now, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said publicly that the public doesn’t want judges in the reapportionment process. Senate Pro Tem Don Perata said two weeks ago that women and ethnic minorities complain that the ranks of retired judges include too many white men. And SCA 3 critics piled on to those sentiments today:

According to one press account, Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, argued that a judiciary that’s “about 89 percent white male” doesn’t adequately represent Californians’ interests. Sen. Bill Morrow, R-Oceanside, warned his colleagues not to think that judges are any less political than, well, politicians.

Digs aside, it’s probably too late to get SCA 3 on the November ballot. And the bill faces a tough road in the Assembly where Speaker Fabian Nunez has been highly critical of you guessed it lack of diversity in the judiciary.

Cheryl Miller

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