Monthly Archives: July 2005

“Judge rules against state parties”

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer offers this report, which begins:

    A candidate who wants to run for elective office as a Republican may do so without the blessing of the Washington State Republican Party.
    That was the upshot of an injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly. After throwing out the state’s Top Two primary election law two weeks ago, he declined yesterday to expand his ruling to let the political parties control which candidates get to use a party’s label.
    By choosing not to give the Democratic, Republican and Libertarian parties more than what they had already won, the judge may have triggered yet more litigation — an encore to the parties’ lawsuits that invalidated the state’s popular “blanket” primary in 2003 and, on July 15, the Top Two system that voters approved last fall as Initiative 872.

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“Voter advocates to sue state”

The Columbus Dispatch offers this report (subscription required). It begins: “A coalition of voter advocates, led by the League of Women Voters of Ohio, today plans to file what it calls a “historic, nonpartisan lawsuit” compelling the state to fix its system of elections. The lawsuit, to be filed in federal court in Toledo, alleges that Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, Gov. Bob Taft and their predecessors failed to ensure the right to vote in Ohio.”

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Prop. 80 Back on Ballot in California

The California Supreme Court issued an order today (see here, scroll down to last entry) restoring Prop. 80 to the ballot. The order reads:

    Petition for review GRANTED. The stay issued by the Court of Appeal as part of its July 22, 2005, decision, restraining the Secretary of State from taking any steps, pending the finality of the Court of Appeal’s decision, to place Proposition 80 in the ballot pamphlet or on the ballot of the special election to be held on November 8, 2005, is vacated. As the Court of Appeal recognized, California authorities establish that “it is usually more appropriate to review constitutional and other challenges to ballot propositions or initiative measures after an election rather than to disrupt the electoral process by preventing the exercise of the people’s franchise, in the absence of some clear showing of invalidity.” (Brosnahan v. Eu (1982) 31 Cal.3d 1, 4.) Because, unlike the Court of Appeal, at this point we cannot say that it is clear that article XII, section 5, of the California Constitution precludes the enactment of Proposition 80 as an initiative measure, we conclude that the validity of Proposition 80 need not and should not be determined prior to the November 8, 2005 election. Accordingly, the Secretary of State and other public officials are directed to proceed with all the required steps to place Proposition 80 in the ballot pamphlet and on the ballot of the special election to be held on November 8, 2005. After that election, we shall determine whether to retain jurisdiction in this matter and resolve the issues raised in the petition. Votes: George, C.J., Kennard, Baxter, Werdegar, Chin, and Moreno, JJ.”

This is very interesting, and contrasts nicely with the California Supreme Court’s decision a few years ago in Senate v. Jones, 988 P.2d 1089 (Cal. 1999) to engage in pre-election review a few years ago to remove an initiative measure (on single subject grounds) that would have changed redistricting rules and the rules related to setting legislators’ salaries. In that case, Justice Kennard in dissent raised the same points raised by the Court’s order here.
What does this mean for review of the Prop. 77 litigation? Nothing directly. That case remains before the Third Appellate District. I have predicted (perhaps rashly) that there’s an 80% chance the trial judge’s ruling keeping Prop. 77 off the ballot will be affirmed. Part of that was based on my belief that in the summer the California Supreme Court seems pretty reluctant to get involved in these cases. So it may be that the California Supreme Court is more likely to eventually take a closer look at the merits of the Prop. 77 appeal than I had thought.

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