Like a bolt out of the blue the US Supreme Court has suddenly thrust front and center the most important question in a democracy: who should exercise political power. Should it be all the people, or should it just be those citizens qualified to vote? The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case out of Texas that challenges the 50-year methodology of using all the people in drawing legislative districts. The ruling could drop on California politics like a brick on a tea cup.
Beginning in 1962, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren handed down a series of rulings that said legislative and congressional districts must be drawn on the basis of equal populations – one person, one vote. This did away with the old rural-based State Senates, including California’s where three small counties had one senator and Los Angeles had one senator. “Legislators represent people, not trees or acres,” said Warren in explaining why malapportioned districts were unconstitutional.