Court Considers Remedy Arguments for CVRA Trial
December 7, 2018
SANTA MONICA, Calif. – City Attorney Lane Dilg released the following statement in response to the hearing today at which the court heard arguments on the appropriate remedy in the voting rights case against the City of Santa Monica:
“We are pleased that the court gave serious consideration to and hope that it will adopt the City’s argument that any district map must be drawn through the democratic public process required by the California Elections Code. That process will provide all Santa Monica residents the opportunity to weigh in on the important issue of how any required districts should be drawn.”
About the Ruling
Today the court held a hearing on remedies in the voting rights case against Santa Monica. After hearing arguments from the parties, the court took the matter under submission. The court did not specify a time frame in which it will rule.
In April 2016, plaintiffs Pico Neighborhood Association, Maria Loya, and Advocates for Malibu Public Schools filed a complaint in the California Superior Court alleging that Santa Monica’s at-large election system dilutes Latino/a voting power in violation of the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) and discriminates against Latino/a voters in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the California Constitution.
Santa Monica has had at-large elections since 1915. The current at-large election system was adopted by the voters in 1946, with broad support from prominent minority members of the community. The
Evidence at trial did not support plaintiffs’ claims that a move to districts would generate better outcomes for Latino/a voters in Santa Monica. No district can be drawn in Santa Monica that has more than 30 percent Latino voters – far from a majority – and no court adjudicating a vote-dilution claim has ever ordered the creation of districts where the citizen-voting-age population of the relevant minority group in the purportedly remedial district would be this low. A district system would prevent Latino/a residents from organizing together across neighborhoods, as they can in the at-large system. In Santa Monica, approximately 2/3 of Latino/
On November 8, 2018, the court issued a tentative ruling for the plaintiffs. The court’s tentative ruling contained no explanation of the Court’s ruling. The City has requested a statement of decision explaining the basis for the tentative ruling, which the Court has ordered the plaintiffs to draft.
The City still hopes to convince the court to change its tentative decision and rule in the City’s favor, as plaintiffs’ claims lack merit and the evidence at trial demonstrates that Santa Monica’s at-large election system for City Council members is fair and inclusive and does not dilute Latino/a voting power.
Additional information about the case can be found here: www.santamonica.gov/Election-Litigation-PNA-V-Santa-Monica-FAQ.