Lawsuit Filed Against Advisory Ballot Measure on Citizens United Decision

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Aug. 1, 2014 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Last week, Governor Jerry Brown allowed SB 1272, the Overturn Citizens United Act, by Senator Lieu (D-Torrance) to become law without his signature. The measure allows for an advisory question under the guise of Proposition 49 on the November ballot asking whether congress should overturn the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling which lifted limits on individuals and corporate spending in elections. Brown cited concerns about lawmakers placing nonbinding measures on the ballot as voters may incorrectly believe the measure would have legal effect. That said, while Brown allowed SB 1272 to be placed on the ballot due to the Legislature's commitment to the issue, withholding his signature seems to signal reservations to repeating the practice of seeking advisory opinions from voters.

One week after SB 1272 became law, however, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, an anti-tax group, filed a lawsuit in the Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento to block Proposition 49 from appearing on the November ballot. The group argued against the improper use of the ballot as lawmakers do not have the authority to use Legislative power for opinion polling. The group also cited a California Supreme Court ruling in 1984 that advisory questions cannot be placed on a ballot, but was silent on nonbinding measures. Absent the courts deciding on whether to consider the challenge before then, the measure will remain on the November ballot.

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