California Legislature Passes Another Bill to Restrict Recalls, and Recall Supporters Immediately File a New Lawsuit

On August 24, California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 117, and the same day, opponents of that bill filed a lawsuit to prevent it from taking effect immediately.  SB 117 makes it more difficult for recalls to get on the ballot.  It lets voters who signed the petition remove their names, after the petition has already been turned in and even after the signatures have been verified.

Clearly, if proponents of any time of petition must submit their signatures, and then signers are permitted to remove their names, it will be impossible for any petitioning group to ever have confidence that their petition will succeed.  It is normal for states to let signers remove their names before the petition has been submitted, but if a state lets signers remove their names after the petition has been submitted and checked, no petition is safe.

All this activity is because opponents of California State Senator Josh Newman recently filed a recall petition against him.  The petition has been checked and has enough valid signatures.  But under the terms of SB 117, the recall cannot be scheduled until signers are given a month to remove their names.  The new lawsuit, filed by supporters of the recall, is Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. v Padilla, California Court of Appeals, 3rd district, CO 85381.

Another case with the same name was victorious a few weeks ago, but that case was against a similar bill, SB 96.  Implementation of that bill was stalled by the court because SB 96 was a budget bill, and the California Constitution has a same-subject rule for bills.  That is why the legislature then hastily passed SB 117, which doesn’t have that problem.  Proponents of the recall, in their new lawsuit, argues that it violates due process to make a petition more difficult after that petition has already been submitted.

SB 117 passed both houses, and was signed, all on the same day, August 24.


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