Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Court of Appeal Denies HJTA Petition

The Court of Appeal has denied the petition for writ of mandate filed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the Republican Members of the Legislature. As discussed in a previous post (here), the idea that the Legislature would adjudicate the constitutionality of vetoed legislation was, to put it politely, novel. Here's the Court's order: "BY THE COURT: Petitioners, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association et al., ask this court to issue a peremptory writ of mandate directing, among other things, "Respondents [Legislature of the State of California et al.] to set aside the Legislative action on AB 2 and SB 11 until such time as those measures receive a two-thirds vote of both houses of the Legislature, and [c]ommanding [the] Legislature to refrain from deeming as 'passed' . . . any other measures in the future that increase state taxes unless such measure has been approved by the requisite two-thirds vote in each house of the Legislature." We decline petitioners' invitation to intercede in the ongoing legislative process. Such judicial action is barred by the separation of powers doctrine enunciated in article III, section 3, of the California Constitution ["The powers of state government are legislative, executive, and judicial. Persons charged with the exercise of one power may not exercise either of the others except as permitted by this Constitution"].) Hence, "the courts may not order the Legislature or its members to enact or not to enact, or the Governor to sign or not to sign, specific legislation . . . ." (Serrano v. Priest (1976) 18 Cal.3d 728, 751 [footnotes omitted]; see also, Common Cause v. Board of Supervisors (1989) 49 Cal.3d 432, 445.) Absent the Legislature's passage and the Governor's signing of such legislation, adjudications of its constitutionality and the other matters raised by the petition are not yet ripe for judicial review. The petition for writ of mandate is denied.

ps. Here is today's Sacramento Bee story on the decision.

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