FSFP Files Amicus Brief In HJTA v. Bowen, A California Case On A Measure To Overturn Citizens United

Free Speech For People, along with MOVI, California Clean Money Campaign, CALPIRG, Common Cause California and Courage Campaign, has filed an amicus brief before the California Supreme Court in defense of California Proposition 49, also known as the Overturn Citizens United Act. And, a big thank you to Money Out Voters In for all of its leadership in sponsoring Prop 49 and in building this movement in California.  We are honored to support MOVI’s work in this case.

The California Legislature passed a law (SB 1272) placing an advisory question on the ballot asking voters if the Congress of the United States and the California Legislature shall overturn the Citizens United ruling, to allow full regulation or limitation of campaign contributions and spending. In a preliminary ruling in summer 2014, the California Supreme Court ruled that the ballot measure was likely to violate the California Constitution, which the majority claimed, does not allow such an “advisory” measure as a permissible means to exercise legislative power. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association filed suit claiming a legislatively-referred advisory question is an illegitimate use of the ballot and that ballots cannot be used for lawmaking.

Our brief (filed by San Francisco lawyer Steven Mayer of Arnold & Porter) focuses on a provision in the California Constitution providing that the people have a right to “instruct their representatives.” The history of this provision, and of the contemporaneous practice of the California Legislature, demonstrates that it was intended to allow questions like Proposition 49. This is important not only in California, but also in other states that have similar constitutional provisions. As the people express their will through the ballot, the growing support for a constitutional amendment will become impossible to ignore.

Last week, Congressman Ted Lieu shared a letter to the California Supreme Court echoing support for our joint efforts to put Proposition 49 back on the ballot for the people of California to vote on. The full text is available here.

Download the Amicus Brief here

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