Court may weigh challenge to Citizens United-inspired measure

08/04/2014 4:22 PM

08/04/2014 4:46 PM

The California Supreme Court on Monday took the first step toward considering whether to remove from the fall ballot a measure asking California voters if Congress should overturn the controversial Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Last week, a state appeals court on a 2-1 vote refused to block the nonbinding measure. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association argues it should be tossed because the ballot is reserved for lawmaking.

But in an unusual move, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye has asked attorneys for the Legislature to respond to the petition by Howard Jarvis. The group argued that Proposition 49 – which is based on Senate Bill 1272 by Democratic Sen. Ted Lieu – amounts to an illegitimate exercise of legislative power.

It cited another advisory measure that qualified for the ballot 30 years ago and was challenged, deemed inappropriate and removed by the state Supreme Court.

Jon Coupal, the organization’s president, said he was encouraged by the tight timeline set by the court that requests a government reply by Wednesday, five days before the ballot pamphlet is printed for the November election. “I think they are taking it very seriously,” Coupal said.

Ballots are printed by counties after the state certifies its list of candidates on Aug. 28.

Derek Cressman, a spokesman for the “Money Out Voters In” campaign called the prospect that the court would intervene before the election “judicial activism on steroids.”

“It would be fairly outrageous for the court to weigh in on the constitutionally of this measure before the voters have a chance to speak themselves,” he said.

The U.S. Supreme Court in a 2010 held that free-speech protections do not allow limiting political independent expenditures by corporations and labor unions.

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