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Proposal to split California into three states. Screenshot via CBS News YouTube.

The California Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the removal of a radical November ballot measure seeking to divide the Golden State into three new jurisdictions, reports the Los Angeles Times.

[B]ecause 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 said, per the Times

The backdrop: The proposal to split California into three states — Northern California, California, and Southern California — qualified Tuesday for the November 6 ballot in June. Each new state would have a population between 12.3 million and 13.9 million, per the initiative’s website.

  • If approved, it would have been the first division of an existing U.S. state since the formation of West Virginia in 1863, reports the Times. But the measure would also need approval from the state Legislature and Congress to divide California, as mandated by the U.S. Constitution.
  • Tim Draper, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, sponsored the “Cal 3” initiative, writing that "vast parts of California are poorly served by a representative government dominated by a large number of elected representatives from a small part of our state, both geographically and economically."
    • Draper failed to get a proposal seeking to divide California into six states on the ballot in 2014.

Timing: This comes a week after the Sacramento-based environmental nonprofit, Planning and Conservation League, filed a suit urging the court to block the measure because it’s too drastic and it would need approval from two-thirds of both houses of the state’s Legislature before going to voters for consideration.

  • The group's attorney, Carlyle Hall, told BuzzFeed News the state's ballot process was created to pass statutes and constitutional amendments, not to "break up the existing constitution and start over again."
  • The Times reports that the court has also agreed Wednesday to issue a ruling on the lawsuit.

Go deeper

Air quality alerts issued as California fires threaten more sequoias

The Windy Fire blazes through the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees near the Trail of 100 Giants in Sequoia National Forest, near California Hot Springs, on Tuesday. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Two wildfires were threatening California's sequoia trees over overnight, hours after authorities issued fresh evacuation orders and warnings, along with air quality alerts on Wednesday.

The big picture: Officials in the Bay Area and the San Joaquin Valley issued air quality alerts as smoke from the Windy and KNP Complex fires resulted in hazy, "ash-filled" skies from Fresno to Tulare, the Los Angeles Times notes.

Asymptomatic Florida students exposed to COVID no longer have to quarantine

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during a September news conference in Viera, Fla. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced Wednesday an emergency order allowing parents to decide whether their children should quarantine or stay in school if they're exposed to COVID-19, provided they're asymptomatic.

Why it matters: People infected with COVID-19 can spread the coronavirus starting from two days before they display symptoms, according to the CDC. Quarantine helps prevent the virus' spread.

Federal judge: Florida ban on sanctuary cities racially motivated

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday struck down parts of a Florida law aimed at banning local governments from establishing sanctuary city policies, arguing in part that the law is racially motivated and that it has the support of hate groups.

Why it matters: In a 110-page ruling issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom said the law — signed and championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) — violates the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause because it was adopted with discriminatory motives.

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