There will likely be lots of people attending next week’s argument of Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association v. Padilla, the case to decide whether the Legislature can ask the voters to give their advisory opinion — through an initiative on the ballot — whether the United States Constitution should be amended to overturn the United States Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. The California Clean Money Action Fund is encouraging its supporters to attend a pre-argument rally outside the court and to then “pack the hearing room” for the purpose of, as an email announcement states, “show[ing] the justices how many Californians demand our right to vote on Prop 49.”
Although they might not be joining the crowd at the court, legislators will probably also be keenly interested in the argument.
It’s good to remember that this case has nothing to do with the merits of Citizens United. Rather, the issue is the Legislature’s power under the state constitution to place on the ballot an initiative that asks for the voters’ nonbinding opinion on a topic of public importance. It’s likely at least some members of the California Supreme Court agree that Citizens United was wrongly decided, but that doesn’t mean they believe Prop. 49 was a proper use of the Legislature’s initiative authority.