Election experts say Padilla’s double-billing stems from the threat of potential legal challenges to California’s practice using appointments to fill vacant U.S. Senate seats.
Lawmakers cited two federal court rulings in cases involving the appointment of senators in Illinois and Arizona, the Los Angeles Times reported last fall. Each suggested California’s practice could be found illegal under the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Times added.
“Courts have said if you’re going to have an election, you can’t just have [an appointed official] occupy the seat forever,” Wesley Hussey, a political science professor at Sacramento State University, told CapRadio. “There has to be a chance for voters to approve or not approve them.”
That concern led to Assembly Bill 1495, which Newsom signed last fall months after appointing Padilla. The bill was authored by Assembly member Marc Berman (D–Palo Alto) and ensures that voters decide whether an official who is appointed to a U.S. Senate seat should serve out the remainder of a term.
Experts say the new law aligns California with the 17th Amendment and should shield it from legal threats.