Challenge to Crucial California Voting Protections is Defeated


December 4, 2019

Milan Chang
(415) 848-7754

Challenge to Crucial California Voting Protections is Defeated

Ninth Circuit Stops Challenge to the California Voting Rights Act, Affirming Dismissal of Higginson v. Becerra, et al.

Statement from civil rights organizations Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus (Advancing Justice – ALC) and Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles (Advancing Justice – LA)

Poway, CA –  “We applaud the Ninth Circuit’s decision affirming the dismissal of Higginson v. Becerra et al., a lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) and sought to overturn the use of district elections in the City of Poway. This decision upholds the California Voting Rights Act as an important pillar of democracy and helps us continue our work fighting for fair representation for Asian Americans and other communities of color.

“The California Voting Rights Act helps ensure that members of minority communities have access to meaningful representation, which is the bedrock of democracy. The CVRA, in certain circumstances, requires jurisdictions to move from at-large election systems to other models that give minority communities a better chance to elect candidates of choice. At-large election systems, when used in local jurisdictions where there is racially polarized voting, prevent minority communities from electing their chosen candidates, even in some cases where those communities are very substantial portions of a local jurisdiction’s population. In such instances, the CVRA helps minority communities advocate for a fairer system.

Jonathan Stein, Voting Rights Program Manager & Staff Attorney at Advancing Justice – ALC, says, “Despite being a progressive state, California has a long way to go before it builds a fair and representative democracy, in which the electorate and our democratic institutions reflect the full diversity of our population. The CVRA is an essential tool for building a better democracy in California. This ruling allows us to continue this work, by confirming that the CVRA is constitutional, as the lower federal court and a California court have previously concluded.”

Molly Matter of Amend Law LLC says, “We are grateful to our clients, Jacqueline Contreras , Xavier Flores, Hiram Poway, and Judy Ki, who are standing up for a fairer democracy. We are also grateful for the Ninth Circuit’s decision, which affirms baseless grievances against civil rights legislation will be dismissed. Just as Supreme Court Justice Blackmun warned in his dissent in the Bakke decision nearly forty years ago, “We cannot—we dare not—let the Equal Protection Clause perpetuate racial supremacy,” today’s decision cautions against the exploitation of the 14th Amendment by wealthy, partisan private interests.”

Advancing Justice – ALC and Advancing Justice – Los Angeles are co-counsel with MALDEF and Molly Matter of Amend Law LLC for community members who intervened in the case in support of the California Voting Rights Act.


Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus was founded in 1972 as the nation’s first legal and civil rights Asian American organization. Recognizing that social, economic, political and racial inequalities continue to exist in the United States, Advancing Justice – ALC is committed to the pursuit of equality and justice for all sectors of our society, with a specific focus directed toward addressing the needs of low-income, immigrant and underserved Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles is the nation’s largest legal and civil rights organization for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (NHPI). Through direct services, impact litigation, policy advocacy, leadership development, and capacity building, Advancing Justice-LA focuses on the most vulnerable members of Asian American and NHPI communities while also building a strong voice for civil rights and social justice.

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