SAN FRANCISCO - Proposition 49 supporters rallied on Tuesday outside the California Supreme Court to call on the court to allow the measure to be put back onto the ballot in time for the November 2016 election. Prop. 49 asks California voters to decide whether to instruct the Congress to support a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down federal restrictions on independent expenditures by non-profits, corporations, and unions, in political campaigns. Last year, the California Supreme Court agreed with Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association to stay Prop. 49, removing it from the November 2014 ballot.
Last month, the CA Supreme Court scheduled a hearing on Prop. 49 to consider whether California voters have the right to instruct their representatives, and have the measure restored to the November 2016 ballot. Oral arguments in the case, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, et. al v. Alex Padilla, were heard this morning at the state high courthouse, 350 McAllister St. in San Francisco.
Kathay Feng, Executive Director of the government watchdog group California Common Cause, said, “Depriving Californians of the right to direct their representatives to take action on the problem of unfettered electoral spending by removing Proposition 49 from the ballot will set a dangerous precedent of silencing voters in the future.”
“A healthy democracy depends on a robust marketplace of ideas - it depends on lots of people participating in the political debate. The court should restore Prop. 49 to the ballot because We the People - moms and dads, janitors and journalists, all have the right to instruct Congress to act to reduce the influence of money in politics, and to amplify the voice of people,” Feng stated.
The citizens group, Money Out, Voters In (MOVI), and California Common Cause led efforts to place Prop. 49 onto the ballot. The measure began in the state Legislature as SB 1272, also known as the Overturn Citizens United Act, and was sponsored by then-State Sen. Ted Lieu, now a Congressmember from the 33rd District in west Los Angeles.
California Common Cause also led the way in organizing activists in more than 50 cities throughout California to pass municipal resolutions in support of a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United. The non-partisan group believes that the majority in the Citizens United opinion erred when it ruled that corporations – business companies, unions or non-profits – should be treated as natural persons with the same speech rights as individual human beings.
Speakers at Tuesday’s rally included State Sen. Bob Wieckowski of Fremont, Michele Sutter, chairperson of MOVI; Eddie Kurtz, Executive Director of Courage Campaign, Trent Lange, Executive Director of California Clean Money Campaign; and Emily Rusch, Executive Director of CALPIRG.
Common Cause is a nonpartisan grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.