Gary Zerman, Michael Warnken, and I have been working on a First Amended Complaint (FAC) in the case of CFR v Alexander Padilla, the California Secretary of State, US District Court for the Eastern District for California Case No. 2:17-cv-00973-KJM-CMK. It likely is the most interesting (and important) case of my legal career.
CFR v Padilla challenges whether California’s practices of refusing to increase the number of its legislators to accommodate its dramatic growth in population since the late 1800s has caused its government to become an oligarchy which fails to constitutionally represent California’s 40,000,000 people.
Certainly, this is an interesting topic for 21st America, where 120 people in California claim they can adequately represent the interests of the 40,000,000 people who live in that State.
The New York Times mentioned the case in an article written by Thomas Fuller titled “California’s Far North Deplores ‘Tyranny’ of the Urban Majority”, (July 2, 2017). For some reason, the author seemed to think that because some plaintiffs lived in Northern, California this case was about rural Northern Californians attacking the people who lived in urban LA. This seemed a strange analysis. The original complaint clearly sought to increase representation for everybody.
CFR’s point was one Senator representing a million people anywhere in California was not adequate representation. Why more representation? Why not have enough Senators and Assembly Members elected to office as is necessary to really represent the diverse peoples and communities of California?
Breitbart’s take on the litigation was pretty much the same as the NYT because it was the media covering the media. See Pollak, Joel B., Breitbart, “NYT: ‘State of Jefferson’ Still Mulls Independence from California” (July 4, 2017) (Apparently, reporters don’t have time to report the real news, only to read another’s reporters article and report on that.) Hmmm…. No wonder so many of us are not very well informed.
Fortunately, one reporter (a fellow by the name of Steven Greenhut) read the original complaint and understood it. Greenhut, in an article titled “California Watch: Hard-Pressed Rural Californians Try Civil Rights Approach”, which appeared on July 6, 2017 in the American Spectator, actually quoted from CFR’s complaint and then asked “Will anybody care?”
“California’s refusal to increase its levels of legislative representation to reflect its exponential population growth,” the lawsuit argues, has led to a situation where “meaningful self-governance is pretty much gone” and where “elections are ‘purchased’ not won by candidates who actually seek to represent the people they are supposed to represent.” They have a great point, but what are the chances anyone in power here will care?
These articles, along with California’s motion to dismiss (claiming everyone gets screwed equally) caused CFR and the other plaintiffs to write an amended complaint, which includes more plaintiffs from around California. The complaint makes clear all Californians are injured by this intentional and invidious dilution of basic electoral representation.
Below are some of our thoughts written in “legalese” (for purposes of the court) about how California’s oligarchy hurts all the people in California and why it is inconsistent with the United States Constitution, several of its statutes, several of it treaties, and customary international law.
If you are interested in the subject or wonder how the States of our nation can better represent those diverse communities which compose “we the people” who are supposed to be sovereign, then you might want to read the draft of our First Amended Complaint.
It wasn’t easy to write. Its not perfect. And we believe it might benefit from people’s thought and comments.
Now I realize after practicing law for over 40 years that asking for people’s comments on legal pleadings before such documents are filed is not conventional. But the lawyers and plaintiffs bringing this lawsuit realize that this lawsuit is not a conventional one and its purpose is to benefit all people regardless of their political beliefs.
CFR v Alexander Padilla, the California Secretary of State is about restoring the broken promise of representation made to all of California’s people.
If you are one of the millions of Californians who don’t vote at all because you think the system doesn’t work, then take the time to help us make it work for the people. If you have some ideas about how we can make our complaint better, please let us know.
You can read a redacted version of CFR’s first amended complaint by clicking here.
CFR v Alexander Padilla, the California Secretary of State