A proposal to split California into three separate states was scheduled to be on the ballot this November. Today the California Supreme Court ruled the measure, known as Proposition 9, won’t be put to a vote because there are “significant questions” about its validity. From the LA Times:
In a brief order, the court said it acted “because significant questions have been raised regarding the proposition’s validity and because we conclude that the potential harm in permitting the measure to remain on the ballot outweighs the potential harm in delaying the proposition to a future election.”
The court, meeting in closed session, also agreed in the meantime to consider a challenge to the measure filed last week by the Planning and Conservation League, a California environmental group.
The group contends that the measure amounts to a proposed revision of the state Constitution, which can be placed on the ballot only if two-thirds of both houses of the Legislature approve…
Proposition 9 would trigger a process for dividing California, but ultimately any such change would have to be approved by the U.S. Congress.
Proposition 9 is the brainchild of venture capitalist Tim Draper. It was approved to be on the ballot last month. Draper had previously backed a proposition aiming at splitting the state into six smaller states. He spent $5 million pushing that plan back in 2014. Monday the Sacramento Bee editorial board wrote that the CA Supreme Court should pull Prop. 9 off the ballot saying it would create more problems than it would solve.
It would be immensely complicated to parcel out the government, including schools, prisons and the water supply. It also would be incredibly risky to split the finances of the world’s fifth largest economy.
Politically, it’s also highly unlikely. Both houses of Congress and the president would have to approve, and Republicans are not going to add four Democratic senators from two more blue states…
Whether it’s six Californias or three, Draper has never made a convincing case that splitting the state will somehow make it more likely that officials will fix poorly performing schools, crumbling infrastructure and ditch a political system controlled by powerful special interests.
Speaking of the politics of this, political scientist David Faris argued in his book “It’s Time to Fight Dirty” that Democrats should split California into 7 states specifically to increase the number of Democratic Senators in Washington. Faris also recommends statehood for Washington, DC and Puerto Rico for the same reason. I’m not certain Tim Draper has the same motivation, but giving Democrats perpetual control of the Senate seems like one obvious outcome of this plan. In fact, given the political significance, I’m a little surprised this isn’t being championed by more progressives in California.
But for the moment it appears Draper may need to go back to the drawing board. He’s already recommended diving the state in 6 and 3 pieces, perhaps he should try next time to split it in two and see if that gets him any closer.