The Overturn Citizens United Act
In 2014’s November Election, California voters would have had the opportunity to send a clear message to Congress – that Corporations are NOT people and Money is NOT speech. However, that year, the California Supreme Court took the side of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association to take Proposition 49, the Overturn Citizens United Act, off the 2014 ballot. Proposition 49 would have directed Congress to amend the Constitution and overturn the Supreme Court’s disastrous decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Yet, a majority of the justices decided they needed time to study the issue.
After a rehearing, the California Supreme Court stood with the people on Jan. 4, 2016, ruling that Prop. 49 is legal under the state constitution. The court upheld California’s long tradition of giving people the power to instruct our congressional members to pass important constitutional amendments – Prop. 49 would create the power to rein in the influence of money in politics. However, the court did not order Prop. 49 be immediately restored to the November 2016 ballot.
Instead, the court ruled that the California Legislature must pass another bill to put the Overturn Citizens United Act on the November ballot. In early 2016, Senators Ben Allen and Mark Leno introduced SB 254, a new Overturn Citizens United Act that would take the place of Prop. 49. SB 254 was co-authored by Senators Hannah-Beth Jackson, Loni Hancock and Bob Weickowski, who were all original co-sponsors of the legislation leading to Prop. 49. Gov. Jerry Brown allowed SB 254 to pass into law. SB 254 eventually became Proposition 59, which passed on Nov. 8, 2016, with 52% voter approval.