It’s Final: City Violated California Voting Rights Act

By Carolyn Schuk

“Based on the evidence presented at trial, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have proven by a preponderance of the evidence that the at-large method of election used by the City impairs the ability of Asians to elect candidates as a result of the dilution and abridgment of their rights as voters.” – Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Thomas Kuhnle.

Santa Clara’s City Council election system violated the California Voting Rights Act, ruled County Superior Court Judge Thomas Kuhnle on Wednesday. The judge’s final decision was not substantially different from his preliminary statement of decision issued in May. However, Kuhnle added a fourth finding that past discrimination “supports finding a CVRA violation.”

The case now goes to the remedies phase, which begins with a case management conference this week. Under the CVRA, the City is liable for the plaintiff’s legal bills, as well as its own, both of which are certain to be hefty.

A source with expertise in CVRA lawsuits says that Judge Kuhnle is likely to impose a single-member district remedy on the City, and that there is a significant chance that no Council election will be held until a legally compliant district system is created.

For more on Judge Kuhnle’s preliminary ruling, visit: