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May 10, 2017

'The Chair Recognizes the Honorable Representative From Porn Valley'

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—It's not something most people give much thought to, but there are currently about 40 million people living and working in California—yet the California legislature consists of just 40 senators and 80 assemblymembers. That breaks down to each senator "representing"—that is, seeking out, understanding and promoting the interests of—about one million Californians, and assemblymembers each "representing" about half that number. And some folks think that's too much work for that few legislators, and they've filed a lawsuit to change that. "The great experiment and promise of Independence—'We The People'—launched the American Revolution that led to The United States of America, was based on the fundamental founding organic principle of 'No taxation, without Representation—Give me Liberty, or give me death,'" the lawsuit's Introduction begins. "Sadly, this paramount principle of representation—that the people themselves provide the basis for governmental sovereignty and legitimacy—has been abridged by California." Since a couple of the plaintiffs in the suit are the California Libertarian Party and the California American Independent Party, and it's unknown what are the political affiliations of the 16 individual plaintiffs, it's not surprising that taxation is one of the plaintiffs' foremost concerns—but the Introduction's second and third paragraphs make a broader, more reasonable point: "This neglect of 'We the People' as the organic basis for this Nation’s self-governance stems from the cap the California government placed on the number of Senators (limited to 40) and Assembly Members (limited to 80) in 1862, when the population of the State was less 420,000 people," the suit states. "This arbitrary cap has created an oligarchy inconsistent with representative self-governance because the same number of legislators (120 total) now attempts to represent California’s present population of nearly forty MILLION (40,000,000) people. By any metric, this is impossible; 120 legislators cannot possibly represent forty (40) MILLION people in any effective, equitable and meaningful manner as contemplated by the United States Constitution and Amendments thereto... "California's refusal to increase its levels of legislative representation to reflect its exponential population growth is both arbitrary and unconstitutional. As a consequence, the premise of the People’s right to participate in meaningful self-governance has been abandoned. California elections are effectively 'purchased' by candidates who are in the service of the two major parties and no longer represent the people. Accordingly, Plaintiffs bring this lawsuit to return their representation to those principles contemplated by the founders for a representative republic, or in the alternative to sanction California for its brazen subjugation of the people’s right to govern themselves." The suit goes on to note that, for example, in New Hampshire, each state legislator represents less than 4,000 people, and charges that "If you are a United States citizen and qualify to run for California’s lower legislative body you know that your vote is insignificant and unless you are wealthy, or are supported by those who are, you have no reasonable chance of being elected to the California legislature. The evidence will show that running for legislative office in California costs exorbitant amounts of money—the vast majority of the electorate have no meaningful chance to be elected or support someone who can be because they simply do not have the resources to fund a political campaign to reach out to hundreds of thousands of people necessary to win a California legislative campaign." Let's face it: There's no way to argue with that, and the history of statewide elections over the past few decades certainly support the charge. The plaintiffs bolster their argument by quoting from The Federalist Papers, that collection of newspaper articles penned by the country's Founders such as Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, noting that, in Federalist Paper No. 49, "The members of the executive and judiciary departments are few in number, and can be personally known to a small part only of the people. ... The members of the legislative department, on the other hand, are numerous. They are distributed and dwell among the people at large. Their connections of blood, of friendship, and of acquaintance embrace a great proportion of the most influential part of the society. The nature of their public trust implies a personal influence among the people, and that they are more immediately the confidential guardians of the rights and liberties of the people." In pressing their case, the plaintiffs charge violations of the Fourteenth Amendment, citing their lack of meaningful voice in legislative decisions and therefore violations of due process, as well as First Amendment's Equal Protection clause and the right to "petition the Government for a redress of grievances," which they claim is "diminished substantially if representation does not keep pace with population growth." And then, of course, there's always that sticky Ninth Amendment that the Supreme Court always seems to go out of its way to avoid. All of this, of course, should be well familiar to the California-based members of the adult entertainment community. While the industry has found some legislators who will listen to its concerns, and occasionally even sponsor legislation that aids the industry, the adult community can hardly be said to be "represented" in Sacramento, and few if any California legislators would be willing to promote legislation that would directly help the adult industry. So just think about it: Why shouldn't there be a "Mary Smith, Independent (or Democrat) (or even Republican) of Porn Valley (Woodland Hills, Canoga Park, Chatsworth, Northridge, Reseda, Winnetka, Lake Balboa, Tarzana, Encino, Van Nuys)" in the legislature? Certainly, the number of adult industry workers and company owners in those areas would make up a reasonable legislative district. Just think about it. Capitol building photo By Justin Hwang, 1996.

 
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