The California Supreme Court on Wednesday blocked an initiative to split the state into three amid questions about whether the measure violates the state constitution.
The Cal 3 proposal qualified for the ballot in June, but opponents have argued that dividing the state into three separate states cannot be accomplished with an initiative and would require a two-thirds vote of the state legislature.
In its order, the court directed Secretary of State Alex Padilla to remove Proposition 9 from the ballot because “significant questions have been raised regarding the proposition’s validity and because we conclude that the potential harm in permitting the measure to remain on the ballot outweighs the potential harm in delaying the proposition to a future election.”
The state high court, which left open the possibility of placing the initiative back on the ballot, also agreed to hear a challenge to the initiative filed by the Planning and Conservation League, an environmental group.
Bankrolled by Silicon Valley billionaire Tim Draper, Proposition 9 would create the states of Northern California, Southern California and California, which he has argued would bring elected officials closer to the voters they represent.
Mr. Draper, who tried previously to place a six-Californias initiative on the ballot, has said that the Golden State has become too large to govern itself effectively, and that the state should be divided in the interest of improving its schools, infrastructure and financial outlook.
In an op-ed last week, he argued that Proposition 9 “will bring more localized transparency to state government and put an end to the current cronyism in Sacramento, on display in this meritless and cynical use of the court system.”
“As support grows for Proposition 9, powerful opponents will do everything in their power to deny voters a chance to decide their own future,” Mr. Draper said. “When they do, we should all be asking ourselves, ‘Why won’t they let Californians vote?’”
Several efforts are underway to divide the state or have it secede from the union, but Cal 3 has been so far the only separation measure to qualify for the state ballot.