Ninth Circuit Invalidates California Law Requiring Names of Initiative Proponents to be Listed on Each Petition Sheet

On June 16, the Ninth Circuit invalidated California laws that require the individual proponents of an initiative to be listed on each petition sheet. Chula Vista Citizens v Norris, 12-55726. However, the decision upholds the law that says that only individuals, not groups, may sponsor initiatives. Technically the decision only relates to city initiatives, but the constitutional principles in the decision would apply to any type of initiative.

Here is the decision
, which was 2-1. The purpose of the initiative was to repeal a city ordinance that limited contractors with the city to those who used only used unionized labor. The decision says that because initiative proponents must reveal their identifies when they file the notice that they are starting to circulate the initiative (to the City Clerk, and in a newspaper of general circulation), there is no government need to have the proponents also named on each petition sheet. The principles behind the decision are supportive of the Ohio Libertarian Party argument in Libertarian Party of Ohio v Husted; in that case Ohio requires the employer of the petitioners on each petition sheet. The Ohio case is still pending, even though the courts have refused injunctive relief to the Ohio Libertarian candidates.


Ninth Circuit Invalidates California Law Requiring Names of Initiative Proponents to be Listed on Each Petition Sheet — No Comments

  1. When did the gerrymander oligarchs become the Enemies of the People ???

    Answer the second that they took office after the first gerrymander election.

    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V.

  2. IIUC, in Ohio, the source of the circulator’s funding isn’t required to be on the petition when it is being circulated, but only when it is filed. That is, it is not disclosure to the signer, but rather to the state.

    The ruling in California was based on the idea that the proponent was entitled to anonymity. It would be pretty silly for a circulator to be anonymous (wearing a stocking mask while gathering signatures is probably is not an effective approach).

    “Turn around, don’t look at my face. Now slowly reach back and … I said slowly … I will hand you a petition and a pen to sign it. I’ll be watching, so don’t try any funny business.”

    I wonder if anyone really wanted the decision in California. The original petition had the real sponsor, the contractors association on it.

    It would be kind of like an initiative in California said that PG&E, an Indian Tribe, or gaming company were backing it, instead of Joe Smith or some other name.

    After the city clerk rejected the petition, a new petition with the named proponent’s was circulated, and the initiative was passed.

    Meanwhile the court case was based on the contractors association being the real sponsor of the initiative (which was likely what brought James Bopp into the case), or if they weren’t that it was OK for the named proponents to not appear on the petition.

    The State of California argued that state law permits the named proponent to intervene in court cases (but in federal court, if the Attorney General refuses to defend an initiated constitutional amendment, the proponent doesn’t have standing).

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