Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association v. Padilla — the case to decide whether the Legislature can ask the voters to give their advisory opinion whether the United States Constitution should be amended to overturn the United States Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision — will be argued before the California Supreme Court next month. The Legislature had placed on the 2014 ballot an initiative requesting that input from the voters, but, with election deadlines imminent, the Supreme Court removed it, saying the proposition’s validity was uncertain and holding out the possibility of the initiative appearing on a future ballot if the court ultimately determines it is valid. Now, after full briefing, the court is set — one way or the other — to remove the uncertainty about the validity.
Five justices voted a year ago to remove (at least temporarily) the initiative — Justices Marvin Baxter, Kathryn Werdegar, Ming Chin, Carol Corrigan, and Goodwin Liu. Justice Liu filed a separate statement leaving little doubt that he then believed the voters should never get a crack at opining about Citizens United through the ballot box. Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye was the lone dissenter, suggesting the court should defer to the Legislature’s decision to survey the electorate. There was one vacancy on the court at the time.
In the year since the court’s order, Justice Baxter has retired and Justices Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar and Leondra Kruger have joined the court. But the personnel change won’t save the initiative if Justices Werdegar, Chin, Corrigan, and Liu — who voted to temporarily strike the initiative from the ballot — conclusively decide that the Legislature exceeded its authority.
The court has not yet posted its October calendar — that could happen tomorrow — but the docket for the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association case today shows that the case will be argued on October 6 in San Francisco.