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Politics & Policy

ACLU of Northern California apologizes for redistricting letter sent on its behalf

Jupiter Peraza, Director of Social Justice Initiatives at the Transgender District, speaks at a rally against the proposed redistricting maps to a crowd of various community groups on April 6, 2022. | Camille Cohen

In the midst of San Francisco’s heated redistricting debates, a well-known name seemed to jump into the fray: the American Civil Liberties Union. 

On letterhead reading ‘ACLU Northern California San Francisco Chapter’, a April 6 letter signed by Regina Islas admonished the city’s Redistricting Task Force for having “diminished and disregarded the community’s expressed concerns.”

That letter was one of two filed with the Elections Commision urging the panel to call a hearing and instruct its three appointees to the task force to make adjustments to better incorporate community feedback. The other letter was co-signed by the League of Women Voters and Asian-Americans Advancing Justice (Asian Law Caucus). 

The letters were cited by some as validating a decision by the commission to call a hearing to discuss removing the three appointees, a move that sparked widespread scrutiny.

In an April 15 letter to the elections commission, Abdi Soltani, executive director of ACLU of Northern California, apologized “for the confusion we have caused, which I do here on behalf of the organization.”

“In the fast-moving context of a difficult and contentious redistricting process, the April 6th letter that was sent to you went further than findings or positions ACLU of Northern California attorneys have reached in San Francisco or in other jurisdictions,” Soltani wrote. “The ACLU of Northern California does not suggest that there was any malfeasance, nor do we endorse the removal of Task Force members or the adoption of a specific map.”

Soltani said that the intent of the letter was to call attention to the work of the League of Women Voters and Asian-Americans Advancing Justice (Asian Law Caucus).

The elections commission voted unanimously to retain the three task force appointees at an April 8 hearing. 

Annie Gaus can be reached at