The California Supreme Court has shot down a measure that would have allowed Californians to vote on whether the state should be divided into three smaller states, dealing a serious setback to Venture Capitalist (and Elizabeth Holmes superfan) Tim Draper, who has insisted that the state is "ungovernable" in its current form and spearheaded a campaign to split it up.
The Court on Wednesday sided with an environmental group that had challenged the ballot measure, arguing that the reforms demanded by the ballot measure were "too sweeping" to be put directly to the people.
“Proposition 9 was a costly, flawed scheme that will waste billions of California taxpayer dollars, create chaos in public services including safeguarding our environment and literally eliminate the State of California – all to satisfy the whims of one billionaire. We are thankful for the opportunity to save Californians from having to vote on a billionaire’s folly,” Howard Penn, executive director of the Planning and Conservation League said in a statement, according to The Sacramento Bee.
State election officials said last month that Proposition 9 - also known as the Cal3 measure - had received enough signatures from supporters to qualify it for the ballot.
If successful, the proposal would have split California into Northern California, Southern California and California, as shown below:
Draper's petition received more than the 365,880 signatures from registered voters that it needed to qualify for the ballot (that amounts to 5% of registered voters who cast votes for governor in the 2014 election).
The Planning and Conservation League, an environmental group, challenged the measure in court, arguing it posed a "revision" of the state constitution, as opposed to an amendment, and that such a revision would be too sweeping to allow it to end up on the ballot. However, the court left open the possibility that the ballot measure could be put to voters in the future by saying the "potential harm in permitting the measure to remain on the ballot outweighs" the harm of its delay.
Draper criticized the court and said the outcome is the work of a "corrupted" political system: "This is not the way democracies are supposed to work." Opponents of the measure, meanwhile, argue that it would be a costly waste of time and resources.
Voter approval of Cal3 would not automatically divide California into three states. Instead, the governor would be directed to petition Congress to approve the split, as called for under the U.S. Constitution, and the president would be required to sign such legislation into law.
The last time a US state was split was during the Civil War, when West Virginia seceded from Virginia.
Given that the Court has merely put a halt to the measure instead of killing it, there's still a chance it could resurface in future elections. But without the political will of the Courts and the politicians behind it, the measure's chances of making it to the ballot - for what would've been a nonbinding vote - remain slim.
Of course, some might argue that once again the establishment has over-ruled the will of the people - but that would be tantamount to treason.