By: Elizabeth Profaci
After California passed the Voters FIRST Act (“the Act”) in 2008, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission (“the Commission”) has drawn the state’s legislative and congressional districts. Among other provisions pertaining to the work of the Commission, the Act provides deadlines for the release of draft maps for public comment, approval, and certification the Commission must follow. The Act requires the Commission to release at least one set of draft maps by July 1 of the year following the census and the California Constitution requires that final maps must be approved and certified to the Secretary of State by August 15 of that same year.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused delays with the release of census data, which makes complying with these statutory and constitutional deadlines impossible. Recognizing this difficulty, the Legislature of the State of California filed an emergency petition requesting a writ of mandate to adjust the deadlines. In Legislature v. Padilla, the California Supreme Court granted the Legislature’s motion and adjusted the deadlines to require the Commission to release the first map drafts for public comment by November 1, 2021 and to approve and certify the final maps by December 15, 2021. Additionally, the court concluded that “relevant state deadlines should be shifted accordingly” in the event of “further federal delay.” In light of the court’s holding, the Legislature adopted SB 594 in September 2021, which would codify the holding in Padilla.