Redistricting Controversy Hits LA City Council | NBC Southern California

Redistricting Controversy Hits LA City Council

Attorney Leo Terrell is suing over the redistricting process of the council, contending that the city violated federal law by making race the "predominant" factor in the redrawing of political boundaries.



    (Published Wednesday, July 10, 2013)

    How you draw the borders of legislative districts determines who gets elected to those districts, which is why it is a controversial process.

    Now civil rights attorney Leo Terrell is calling for a federal investigation into the LA City Council, saying the boundaries of the 15 council districts were unfairly drawn.

    "It is against the law to use race as a basis for redrawing district lines," Terrell said.

    Terrell has filed a lawsuit against the city over the redistricting of council seats, based in part on the reported comment of a staffer for City Council President Herb Wesson. The staffer, when discussing one proposal for Wesson's district, allegedly said it contained "too many Mexicans."

    "For a city councilman's representative to say we have too many Mexicans in the 10th District is insulting," Terrell said.

    In fact, race has long been an issue in the drawing of legislative district borders, according to Loyola law professor Jessica Levinson. While it can be legally taken into consideration, it can't be the only consideration.

    "Race has to be taken into account, in part to protect minorities," Levinson said. "We don't want to put all minorities in one district, so they only have power in one district, and we don't want to crack minorities up so they have diluted power in a a variety of districts."

    Wesson's office says as the defendant in the litigation, it had no choice but not to comment.

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