Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com
Published: Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014 – 9:19 pm
Last Modified: Friday, Aug. 15, 2014 – 6:42 am

The state Supreme Court – or at least five of its members – got it right by declaring that an advisory measure on campaign finance placed on the Nov. 4 ballot by the Legislature is legally suspect and should be removed.

The court voted 5-1 to remove what had been Proposition 49, which asked voters to press Congress to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s highly controversial Citizens United ruling.

The ruling freed corporations and labor unions to make unlimited independent expenditures in federal campaigns – already the law governing state campaigns in California.

Technically, the state court did not rule on the merits of whether the Legislature can place such advisory measures, lacking the force of law, on the ballot, although one justice, Goodwin Liu, declared that the Legislature lacks such power. Rather, the court blocked it from the Nov. 4 ballot and called for further litigation on the underlying issue.

Interestingly, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye was the dissenter, urging other justices to leave the measure on the ballot and consider its legality after the election.

Her preferred action, however, would have been tantamount to endorsing Proposition 49’s legality, since its effect on Congress, whatever it might be, would have already been made.

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