There are forty State Senators in California, and they each represent about 930,000 people, but it wasn’t always this way. California used to follow the “little federal model”, where the Assembly districts were drawn to according to population, and the Senate districts represented between 1 and 3 counties.

Designed after the House of Representatives and United States Senate, this was meant to express the will of the people via the Assembly, with the advice and consent of senior statesmen in the Senate.

In 1951, the State Senate of California looked like this:

4.1 million people lived in Senate District 38, also known as Los Angeles County. Senate District 28, representing Alpine, Mono, and Inyo counties, was home to only 11,000 people.

The State Senate used to represent areas. The Assembly was drawn to represent roughly equal populations in every district.

And Then Somebody Sued

In 1964, the Supreme Court ruled that all chambers of a state legislature must have their districts drawn by population, not area. The lawsuit was brought in Alabama, but the court decided that districts drawn simply by counties were unconstitutional, violating the Equal Protection clause.

The case was Reynolds v. Sims, and while thirty-two states immediately passed resolutions calling for a constitutional convention to overturn the decision, the effort failed, and districts all over the country had to be re-drawn.

 

Equal Protection, Is It?

Los Angeles County now contains 14 Senate districts. Senate District 1, our district, touches 11 counties. This means that Los Angeles County is 14 times more powerful than all the counties of Northeastern California put together.

It means that the folks making decisions about agriculture, water, and forestry come from a place that doesn’t have any farms, imports all its water, and has more cars than trees.

Equal protection, indeed.

 

 

  1. Rhonda Darby says:

    The power needs to be distributed through the entire State not just one portion of the state this is ridiculous because you do know that most of your liberals and dams live down in Southern California and most of the Republicans live in Northern California. They need to figure this out change it or split the state into two states. I live in Northern California where the wildfires have hit I do know that a lot of people are leaving California because of the way it is ran they have no incentive or even desire to stay because of the way our state is ran. Unless something changes a lot of the people are leaving California. I personally think that the state needs to split into two states this way we have our say and then they can have their say

  2. Absolutely terrible. We have been completely hijacked. I support you, let’s hope and work towards a more “representative” California, not just for the “some” areas but all the “formerly-golden” state’s districts!!

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