By Neil Nisperos, Staff Writer
Created: 01/02/2012 03:10:55 PM PST

The California Supreme Court will hear arguments on Jan. 10 about redistricting lines that will be used in 2012’s state Senate elections.

A Republican group had asked the California Supreme Court on Dec. 2 to shelve the newly drawn state Senate district map, even though the court previously declined to take up such a challenge.

The petition was filed recently by a group called Fairness and Accountability in Redistricting.

The group has submitted more than 711,000 signatures for a referendum to stop the new electoral map from being used in next year’s election.

FAIR wants the high court to prepare for the referendum by either using the previous Senate district map or combining two new Assembly districts for every Senate seat for the 2012 election.

The petition also asks for a special master on redistricting.

The referendum signatures that were submitted to counties in November are now being verified. The effort needs about 500,000 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

“Because we filed well over 700,000 signatures, we are able to ask the court to consider interim remedies when the referendum qualifies and to stay the use of the Redistricting Commission’s Senate maps for the 2012 elections,” said state Sen. Mimi Walters, R-Laguna Beach, who is spearheading the effort.

Voters tasked a citizen-led redistricting commission to draw new legislative and congressional districts in response to concerns of gerrymandering by lawmakers that preserved districts for incumbents and their parties.

But opponents of the new Senate districts say redistricting could hurt local influence in Sacramento.

“We believe that the lines the commission drew for the state Senate did not follow the criteria in the (state) Constitution for compactness or for respecting city and county borders,” said Dave Gilliard, a spokesman for the FAIR referendum group.

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