Go deeper: Court blocks measure to split California into 3 states

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.