July 18 (UPI) -- The California Supreme Court moved Wednesday to block a measure that would divide the state into three parts.
The court issued a brief order, stating it chose to remove the measure -- known as Proposition 9 -- from the November ballot after "significant questions" were raised about the validity of the proposition and the potential harm in allowing it to remain outweighed the risk of delaying it to a future election.
Venture capitalist Tim Draper sponsored the measure and has said it would be inappropriate for the court to block it from the ballot.
"The concept of breaking this enormous state into smaller, more manageable states is not new," he added. "In fact, the voters of California were asked to, and did approve, the Pico Act in 1859, which asked Congress to approve splitting the state into two. Congress never acted on that request, as it might not do if Proposition 9 is approved."
During the closed session on Wednesday, the court also agreed to eventually issue a ruling on the measure's constitutionality.
The measure qualified for the ballot in June, after an initiative for its support -- known as Cal 3 -- gathered more than 400,000 signatures.
If passed and approved by Congress, the measure would split California into three new states of near-equal population: Northern California, California and Southern California.
Northern California would include cities between the Bay Area and the Oregon border, Southern California would begin in Fresno and cover most of the southern state and "new" California would include Los Angeles County and much of the coast below San Francisco Bay.
Draper has said the new, smaller states would allow voters to have more impact.
Opponents of the bill sued, arguing the proposal abolishes the state constitution, which cannot be done in a ballot initiative.