The California Legislature asked its state Supreme Court to direct CA Secretary of State Alex Padilla to place Proposition 49 on the November 8, 2016 ballot. That 2014 statewide referendum --- which didn't make it onto the ballot at the time for reasons explained below --- seeks the advice of the Golden State’s electorate as to whether Congress should propose, and the Legislature ratify, a federal Constitutional amendment that would overturn the U.S. Supreme Court's infamous Citizens United decision.

Per Prop 49, the amendment should "make clear that the rights protected by the United States Constitution are the rights of natural persons only."

The ballot measure was a result of SB 1272. When originally adopted by the state Legislature it directed then Secretary of State Debra Bowen to place Prop 49 on the November 4, 2014 ballot. However, in August of that year, in response to a legal challenge filed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers’ Association (HJTA), the CA Supreme Court directed the Secretary of State to refrain from placing the initiative on the 2014 ballot. The Court, at that time, did not rule on the merits of HJTA's legal challenge. It simply concluded that, as an "advisory measure", as opposed to an actual statute, the ballot initiative's "validity was uncertain." Thus, in 2014, California citizens were denied the opportunity to formally express their views via the ballot on whether Citizens United should be overturned.

At the beginning of this year, almost a year and a half after their original ruling had then "temporarily" nixed the 2014 measure, the state Supremes, in a subsequent ruling [PDF] on the merits of the HJTA complaint, explained that their previous ruling had been based on their assessment that "the balance of hardships from permitting an invalid measure to remain on the ballot, as against delaying a proposition to a future election, weighed in favor of immediate relief." [Emphasis added]. However, according to the Court's new decision, Prop 49 was not invalid. After a thorough examination of the merits, the Court finally ruled that the California Legislature had the lawful authority under both the U.S. and California Constitutions to place this non-binding advisory measure on the ballot.

While the Court did not come out and expressly say it, that essentially means that this same Court had erred when it issued its earlier decision, as proponents of Prop 49 had previously argued. In removing a perfectly valid proposition from the ballot, the Court had intruded upon the Legislature's prerogative to timely secure the advice of the California electorate on November 4, 2014.

With the Court's reversal of it's earlier ruling, one might think that would then allow the measure to finally be placed onto the ballot before state voters in 2016. However...

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