For decades, California's legislative and congressional districts were carved up and redrawn every 10 years by the leaders of the Assembly, the state Senate and whatever other political operatives they allowed into their locked and (in image, at least) smoke-filled room. They had two goals: ensure that the new lines protected or even expanded their party's majority in Sacramento and in the state's congressional delegation; and protect incumbents who supported the leadership by providing them safe districts for reelection. Instead of voters selecting their politicians, the politicians selected their voters. Democracy suffered.
Fed up, voters in 2008 created the nonpartisan California Citizens Redistricting Commission, taking the legislative line-drawing task away from the politicians and giving it to a panel of residents selected by a complicated but nonpartisan process that cuts out the role of party leaders. Two years later, voters added congressional district lines to the commission's purview.
California was following in the footsteps of Arizona, whose voters established a similar process in 2000. But Arizona's system is now being challenged before the U.S. Supreme Court, and if it falls, the portion of California's that governs congressional district lines is likely to fall with it.
Read the whole story at LA Times