Yesterday Orange County Superior Court Judge Franz Miller delayed the start of the trial over a voting rights lawsuit filed last June seeking district elections for city council members. Judge Miller agreed with the city of Anaheim that the city committee debating the issue should be allowed to complete its work, and the Council be given a little time to act, before he makes his ruling.
The city’s attorneys argued in court filings that a citizens advisory committee – which faces a May 31 deadline on its recommendations — that was formed to study council elections might conclude that the city should change its council election system. Given that possibility, the court should allow the democratic process its course, the city argues in court documents.
Miller agreed and said that the court should be open to a democratic solution to constitutional questions. With arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court that states should be allowed to legislate same-sex marriage before the nation’s highest court steps in, this concept is “well grounded” in the nation’s justice system, Miller said.
“As is the concept justice delayed is justice denied,” replied ACLU attorney Robert Rubin.
Miller said that three months “in the scheme of things” seemed reasonable. “It’s not lost on me that we’re talking about a city that for many years has been Hispanic and has only had three Hispanic council members in that time,” he said. (read the complete article here)
Judge Miller’s decision to delay the trial provides the city with a possible window the correct the systemic electoral problems that have left the majority population effectively unrepresented in city hall. While it appears that the committee is stacked with appointees who are opposed to the concept of representative council districts, the council majority pulling the strings could still push the committee in the direction of a solution that will realistically address the voting rights violations alleged in the lawsuit.
The current council majority can lead, or it can try to manipulate the resolution into delay after delay. The Democratic Party recently joined voting rights activists in encouraging the adoption of an 8-district model for Council representation. That should be the starting point for the citizens committee to work from. There is an inevitable train rolling down the tracks in support of representative council districts. The council majority may choose to delay the train, but it cannot be derailed.