California Legislature Puts Advisory Measure on Campaign Finance on 2014 Ballot, but Opponents Sue to Remove Measure

On July 3, the California legislature passed SB 1272, which says the following ballot measure will be on the November 2014 ballot: “Shall the Congress of the United States propose, and the California Legislature ratify, an amendment or amendments to the United States Constitution to overturn Citizens United v Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010), and other applicable judicial precedents, to allow the full regulation or limitation of campaign contributions and spending, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of wealth, may express their views to one another, and to make clear that the rights protected by the United States Constitution are the rights of natural persons only?”

On July 16, Governor Jerry Brown said he would not veto the measure, so it takes effect. However, he refused to sign it, saying it is not a good idea to put ballot measures on the ballot that have no binding effect, and are merely advisory. He said he will veto future measures for advisory questions.

On July 22, a lawsuit was filed with the State Appeals Court, 3rd district, to remove the measure from the ballot. Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association v Bowen, C076928. The lawsuit points out that in 1984, the California Supreme Court removed an initiative from the ballot that asked the voters if they wish to instruct Congress and the legislature to pass a U.S. Constitutional amendment for a balanced federal budget. The only difference between that case, and the new case, is that the 1984 measure was put on the ballot by the voters, whereas the current measure was put on the ballot by the legislature. Generally the California Constitution treats the voters (acting through the initiative process) as the equivalent of the legislature. Here is the text of the bill that put the current measure on the ballot.

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