Articles Posted in Election Law

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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

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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

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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

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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