Articles Posted in Election Law

by
The Supreme Court of California held that, in light of the text and other indicia of the purpose associated with the relevant constitutional and statutory provisions, Cal. Const., art. XIII C, section 2 does not limit voters' power to raise taxes by statutory initiative. The court explained that a contrary conclusion would require an unreasonably broad construction of the term "local government" at the expense of the people’s constitutional right to direct democracy, undermining the longstanding and consistent view that courts should protect and liberally construe it. In this case, the California Cannabis Coalition drafted a medical marijuana initiative proposing to repeal an existing City ordinance. The Coalition subsequently petitioned for a writ of mandate when the City failed to submit the initiative to the voters at a special election. The supreme court affirmed the court of appeal's holding that article XIII C, section 2 only governs levies that are imposed by local government, and thus directed the superior court to issue a writ of mandate compelling the City to place the initiative on a special ballot in accordance with Elections Code section 9214. View "California Cannabis Coalition v. Upland" on Justia Law

by
An initiative proposed to repeal an existing Upland ordinance banning medical marijuana dispensaries, to adopt regulations permitting and establishing standards for up to three dispensaries, and to require that each pay an “annual Licensing and Inspection fee” of $75,000. The petition requested a special election. The signatures of registered voters met the threshold for triggering consideration of the initiative (Elections Code 9214). The city accepted a certificate of sufficiency and was obligated to adopt the initiative without alteration, immediately order a special election, or order an agency report. It ordered a report, which concluded that the $75,000 “fee” would exceed the costs incurred from issuing licenses and annual inspections and that the excess would constitute a general tax, so the initiative could not be voted on during a special election but, under California Constitution article XIII C, had to be submitted at the next general election. The city council provided direction for submitting the initiative in November 2016, the next general election. The California Supreme Court held that that article XIII C does not constrain voters’ constitutional power to propose and adopt initiatives and that under article II, section 11 and Elections Code, the initiative should be submitted at a special election, Article XIII C does not limit voters’ “power to raise taxes by statutory initiative.” View "California Cannabis Coalition v. City of Upland" on Justia Law

by
The Legislature specified that any amendments to a measure submitted for comment must be “reasonably germane to the theme, purpose, or subject of the initiative measure as originally proposed.” At issue is the scope of Elections Code provisions enacted in 2014, which created a new process by which a proposed initiative measure is submitted for public comment. In this case, proponents decided to amend their measure, deleting some provisions and adding others that were supported by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. Challengers sought a writ of mandate requiring the Attorney General to reject the amendments. The trial court granted the writ. The proponents, joined by the Governor, sought emergency relief in this court. The court granted the requested relief and directed the trial court to vacate its judgment. The court concluded that the legislative history and statutory language demonstrate that the Legislature intended the comment period to facilitate feedback, not to create a broad public forum. Nor did the Legislature preclude substantive amendments. The court concluded that, while the new process imposes time constraints on various governmental functions, the constraints are similar to those that existed under the former statutory scheme. In particular, the Legislature continued existing law relating to fiscal analyses of the impacts of proposed measures. View "Brown v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law

by
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. sought to expand its store in the City of Sonora. The City Council postponed its vote on the project while a voter-sponsored initiative was circulated, which proposed to adopt a plan for the contemplated expansion. The Council subsequently adopted the ordinance. The Tuoloumne Jobs & Small Business Alliance sought a writ of mandate based on four causes of action, the first of which asserted that the Council violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by adopting the ordinance without first conducting a complete environmental review. The Court of Appeals granted the writ as to the first cause of action, concluding that when a land use ordinance is proposed in a voter initiative petition, full CEQA review is required if the city adopts the ordinance rather than submitting it to an election. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that CEQA review is not required before direct adoption of an initiative, just as it is not required before voters adopt an initiative at an election. View "Tuolumne Jobs & Small Bus. Alliance v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

by
A proposed referendum in this case would require the electorate to decide at the November 2012 general election whether to accept or reject the California state Senate district map certified by the Citizens Redistricting Commission. If the referendum qualifies, the state Senate map certified by the Commission would automatically be stayed, presenting the question of what Senate districts should be used for the 2012 primary and general elections of the State. The Supreme Court held (1) if the proposed referendum qualifies for the November 2012 general election ballot and triggers a stay of the Commission's certified Senate district map, the Commission's state Senate map should be used on an interim basis for the June and November 2012 elections, pending the outcome of the referendum; and (2) if the proposed referendum does not qualify for the ballot, the Commission's state Senate map will continue to be used for the 2012 election and future elections until replaced pursuant to Cal. Const. art. XXI by new maps drawn by a future newly constituted Commission following the 2020 census. View "Vandermost v. Bowen" on Justia Law

by
This case arose from litigation challenging the validity, under the United States Constitution, of the initiative measure (Proposition 8) that added a section to the California Constitution providing that "[o]nly marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California" (Cal. Const., art. I, section 7.5). The Ninth Circuit posed the following procedural issue to the court, "[w]hether under article II, section 8 of the California Constitution, or otherwise under California law, the official proponents of an initiative measure possess either a particularized interest in the initiative's validity or the authority to assert the State's interest in the initiative's validity, which would enable them to defend the constitutionality of the initiative upon its adoption or appeal a judgment invalidating the initiative, when the public officials charged with that duty refused to do so." In response, the court concluded that when the public officials who ordinarily defended a challenged state law or appealed a judgment invalidating the law declined to do so, under article II, section 8 of the California Constitution and the relevant provisions of the Election Code, the official proponents of a voter-approved initiative measure were authorized to assert the state's interest in the initiative's validity, enabling the proponents to defend the constitutionality of the initiative and to appeal a judgment invalidating the initiative. View "Perry v. Brown" on Justia Law