Ethnicity Police, on the march. Wearing robes: Ambitious enforcement of 2002 California state voting rights act results in a repulsive judicial inquiry into whether an elected Compton city councilwoman is Latina enough. … Another city was sued because lawyers argued that the Latino who was elected “wasn’t the ‘candidate of choice of Latino voters.'” Attention, Chief Justice Roberts. … [via S.F. Citizen]
Update: 1) The issue is whether it’s OK to elect all officials citywide (“at-large”) or whether there should be geographic single-member districts. If the California legislature wanted to ban citywide elections that would be fine. 2) Even if you didn’t want to ban citywide elections, but only wanted to block them where they operate to shut out a discrete and insular minority group, you could still prohibit this sort of obnoxious racialist inquiry; 3) The idea that geographic districts will empoower minorities seems to depend on segregation (if minorities were geographically dispersed, after all, it wouldn’t help them) and it reinforces segregation (since it discourages minorities from moving to other districts where they wouldn’t get to choose their ethnic “representative”). 4) It’s also designed to compensate for the relative failure of minorities (e.g., Latinos) to turn out on election day by awarding them a district of their own. Doesn’t this violate the spirit, and maybe the principle, of “one man, one vote”? In effect, lawyers are demanding the creation of “rotten boroughs” for Latinos, in which the vote of residents will count for more than the vote of someone across town.