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In Redistricting, Diversity Isn't Everything

La Opinin, Editorial, Staff Posted: Feb 22, 2010

The application period for California's Citizens Redistricting Commission, responsible for redrawing state legislative districts, closed last week. Now, the California auditors office must begin the process of winnowing the 31,000 candidates down to the eight who will start the panel.

Applicant demographics, as we anticipated, are completely out of sync with Californias population. About 70% of applicants are Anglos, yet they represent only 40 percent of the state population, while 11.5% of applicants are Latinos, and they represent 37 percent of the population.

While we believe in the importance of diversity in this case for many reasons, it would be a mistake to think that only a Latino can protect the rights of the minority communities.

The important thing is to fulfill the fundamental provisions related to redistricting of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The purpose of redrawing districts lines is to allow them to reflect the population data of the last census, without diluting the presence of minority communities by dividing them among multiple districts. The law says that when the possibility exists for a minority district, it should be drawn as such.

The founding fathers in the Constitution established the grounds for adapting the political structures to reflect population changes. The 1965 law adopted the principle to reliably reflect the changes of the 20th century and beyond.

Unfortunately, last year the Supreme Court made one of its worst decisions by a 5-4 conservative majority to weaken the Voting Rights Act, precisely in its protection of minorities during the redistricting process.

For this reason it is essential that those selected posses a deep, abiding commitment to the spirit and intent of basic civil rights legislation. Diversity is important, but it is not everything.

Related Articles:

Last Chance for Asians to Join Redistricting Commission

Asians Urged to Apply for Redistricting Commission

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