The redistricting commission fires back + Is California a ‘Judicial Hellhole?’

·5 min read
Citizen's Redistricting Commission (

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Attorneys for the California Citizens Redistricting Commission issued a response to a legal challenge by five voters who alleged that the commission is working with partisan legal advisers and holding meetings behind closed doors.

That lawsuit, filed on behalf of the voters by Dhillon Law Group, run by Republican attorney Harmeet Dhillon, demands that the commission comply with the state’s open meetings law and also calls for the commission to hire new, nonpartisan lawyers.

The commission’s response notes that “there is probably no public body in the State of California that has demonstrated more of a commitment to ‘an open and transparent process enabling full public consideration of and comment on’ its work than the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.”

“Fourteen citizens chosen to reflect the state’s racial, ethnic, geographic, and gender diversity — five Democrats, five Republicans, and four individuals who are not registered with either of the major political parties — have worked selflessly and tirelessly throughout the past year in an effort to fulfill their assigned mandate to draw fair and impartial boundaries for 80 State Assembly districts, 40 State Senate districts, 52 Congressional districts, and four State Board of Equalization districts in compliance with constitutional and statutory requirements,” the response reads in part.

The response states that the 14 members of the commission had to “start from scratch” in organizing themselves, and that they had to do so under extraordinary circumstances thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and a delay in U.S. Census Bureau data.

“In every step along the way, the Commission strived to be completely transparent and sought to engage the public as fully as possible so that anyone who wanted to could participate meaningfully in the line-drawing process,” according to the response.

The response states that the complaint filed against the commission came months after “the supposedly illegal ‘secret’ meetings” took place, with just weeks to go before the commission’s work must be finished.

“At worst, the Petition represents a politically motivated attempt to obstruct the Commission’s efforts by denying it the advice of its chosen counsel in these final crucial days of the redistricting process,” the response reads.

The commission had until Tuesday afternoon to submit its response. Any reply to the response must be filed with the California Supreme Court no later than 3 p.m. on Friday. By the way, the final maps are due in three weeks on Dec. 27.


The American Tort Reform Association has named California as the No. 1 “Judicial Hellhole,” moving up from No. 3 last year.

“With burdensome regulations and a justice system ripe for lawsuit abuse, California is an increasingly hostile place for business owners,” said Kyla Christoffersen Powell, president and CEO of the Civil Justice Association of California in a statement. “But we believe this can change. CJAC won’t stop advocating for reasonable reform on behalf of our communities and California businesses of all kinds to create a more fair, balanced civil justice system.”

Specifically, CJAC is advocating for a pair of ballot initiatives that they are seeking to put on the November 2022 ballot that would target California’s tort system; one initiative would limit lawyers from taking more than 20% of their injured client’s award, the other would create a 60-day window for parties to try and resolve their dispute before the lawsuit may proceed, according to CJAC.

“Unfortunately, the California Legislature has been a graveyard for even the narrowest and most reasonable reforms proposed to protect businesses from abusive litigation,” Powell said. “For example, earlier this year the Assembly Judiciary Committee refused to even hear a proposal to protect small businesses and nonprofits that comply with government safety protocols from frivolous Covid-19 litigation.”

CJAC is facing opposition from the Consumer Attorneys of California, which have launched an “Unmasking CJAC” campaign dedicated to revealing who is providing funds for the decades-old organization.

That includes a new ad that calls out automakers Ford, General Motors, Hyandai and Volkswagen for funding the group.

“Why would Ford, General Motors, Volkswagen and Hyundai align their consumer brands alongside makers of deadly cigarettes, major polluters, and consumer fraudsters? They’ve teamed up with Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Wells Fargo, Koch brothers’ enterprises and Marlboro maker Altria to form a phony ‘justice’ organization they can all hide behind to avoid accountability for their wrongdoing,” said CAOC CEO Nancy Drabble in a statement. “Our new ad and the website rip the disguise off the powerful corporate interests behind the shadowy organization CJAC and expose the reason they are gearing up to spend millions of dollars at the ballot box: to make it harder for Californians to hold them accountable.”


“Sometimes my Twitter makes me think everyone is paying attention to California redistricting and then I remember it’s really like 5 super, super-involved accounts.”

- Politico California reporter Jeremy B. White, via Twitter.

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