The California Supreme Court on July 18 blocked Proposition 9, known as the Cal-3 Proposal, which would result in a split into three states, from going on the November ballot. The court said the potential harm in permitting it “outweighs the potential harm in delaying” it to a future election.
The Planning and Conservation League filed a lawsuit earlier this month to request the proposal be blocked, claiming such a significant change of government requires a two-thirds vote before it can be put before the people according to the state’s constitution.
Howard Penn, executive director of the group, explained in a statement after the court’s decision why he felt the proposed state separation was a bad idea on several levels:
Prop. 9 is “a costly, flawed scheme [that would] 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.”
Tim Draper, the billionaire behind the proposition, claims the separation would “get us better infrastructure, better education and lower taxes.” The plan calls for splitting the state into three: Northern California, Southern California, and California.
Draper managed to obtain at least 600,000 signatures for the measure, which was more than enough to allow it to be placed on the Nov. 6 ballot. Obviously, the billionaire was not pleased with the court’s decision to block the proposal.
“Apparently, the insiders are in cahoots and the establishment doesn’t want to find out how many people don’t like the way California is being governed,” Draper said in an emailed statement. “Whether you agree or not with this initiative, this is not the way democracies are supposed to work.”
A Measure Doomed to Fail
Draper shouldn’t be surprised; his plan was destined to be blocked – for many reasons. First and foremost, why would the U.S. government allow a state so rich in resources split into three governments? Republicans especially would move Heaven and Earth to block such a movement that would ensure more Democrats taking up powerful seats in Congress. The split would create two new strong blue states.
“Why would any Republican want to create two more Democratic senators?” asked Jack Citrin, a professor of political science at the University of California at Berkeley.
And let’s not forget the resistance from the executive branch. Do fans of the proposal really expect President Trump to hop on board and help them? Trump and California have been meeting on the political battlefield for a while now, on everything from immigration control to the state’s clean air act and selling of federal lands. Support from the president is not likely.
Even though Draper managed to get a significant number of signatures for his proposal, the opposition from Californians themselves is substantial. For years, residents of Northern California have tried to join with Southern Oregon to form a state they termed “Jefferson.” The politics of this region are much different than those in the Bay Area and the Capitol city Sacramento, and they would not be pleased to be lumped into the same state as these areas should Draper’s proposal pass.
Cal-3 also has competition with Calexit, a proposal to secede from the Union. Proponents of the exit strategy say as long as California remains a part of the Union, they are a target for terrorism.
The last time the U.S. approved a state splitting itself was during the Civil War. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln reluctantly approved West Virginia to split with Virginia. It seems unlikely to happen again any time soon.