There’s been a lot of press about the Supreme Court’s 5-2 decision last week in California Cannabis Coalition v. City of Upland, holding that Proposition 218, a voter initiative that amended the state constitution to restrict the taxing power of “local governments,” does not limit the ability of voters themselves to impose taxes by initiative.  The media attention includes an editorial in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times, praising the ruling as having “struck a welcome blow to the unreasonably high vote thresholds in Proposition 218.”

The editorial refers to the Proposition 218 requirement that two-thirds of voters must approve the imposition, extension, or increase of many local taxes.  (See, e.g., here.)  (The Times calls it “the tyranny of the minority.”)  However, that’s not what the Supreme Court’s opinion was specifically about (California Cannabis concerned a different Proposition 218 provision, one regarding the timing of elections on taxes), and although many believe that the opinion does what the editorial assumes, others are not as sure.  The San Diego Union-Tribune, for example, editorialized that, because of the court’s ruling, “voter-qualified ballot initiatives only need majority approval — maybe.”  Nonetheless, as CALmatters reports, some state legislators are already set to introduce a constitutional amendment that would overturn the decision.

The Union-Tribune rails against the uncertainty about the status of the two-thirds vote requirement for local taxes by initiative:  “California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye needs to grasp that this is intolerable — and that while it may be unusual, the state’s high court needs to revisit the Upland case and specifically address the voting threshold question.”  Supreme Court rehearings are extremely rare, even with a court in transition.  It would be even more rare for the court to grant rehearing to resolve an issue — the reach of the two-thirds vote requirement — that wasn’t before the court in the first place.  (And, of course, contrary to the Union-Tribune’s entreaty, it takes more than the Chief Justice’s vote to rehear the case.)  Resolution of the issue will most likely have to wait for another case, or for the Legislature and the voters, or just the voters, to amend the constitution to reverse California Cannabis.