Local News

Lawmakers defend Citizens United advisory measure

By From page A2 | August 07, 2014

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California lawmakers acted within their authority in seeking voters’ opinion about the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United campaign finance ruling, attorneys for the Legislature wrote Wednesday.

In a response filed with the California Supreme Court, the attorneys defended a nonbinding advisory measure scheduled for the November ballot.

The Legislature was “acting well within its essential lawmaking function of determining and formulating legislative policy” and “was engaging in a practice that has a longstanding and unchallenged historical precedent,” the attorneys said.

Last month, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association challenged Proposition 49, trying to remove it from the ballot. The association petitioned the state’s highest court after an appellate court refused to block the measure on a 2-1 vote.

A telephone message left with Jon Coupal, the association’s president, wasn’t immediately returned Wednesday. The state Supreme Court has asked the association to submit a response by Friday.

Proposition 49 asks voters if they want a federal constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which allowed unlimited corporate spending in elections.

Attorneys for the Legislature said lawmakers should communicate on a hotly contested issue, and they argued that fears of a flood of advisory measures are unfounded. The last time voters decided on an advisory measure was 81 years ago, the attorneys said.

The bill that placed the current question on the ballot was passed over Republicans’ opposition. Brown, a Democrat, let SB 1272 become law without his signature.

The governor criticized the bill as having “no legal effect whatsoever,” though he said he disagrees with the high court’s decision.

The lawsuit also named Secretary of State Debra Bowen, the state’s chief elections official.

The Associated Press

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