In Stark Reversal, Anti-Citizens United Amendment Ballot Measure Upheld In California

Washington, DC – In August 2014, the California Supreme Court issued a temporary stay removing from the state ballot Proposition 49, a measure designed to test voter support for a federal amendment overturning Citizens United v. FEC. Removing the measure by a vote of 5-1, the court ordered full briefing of the case on the merits. Today, in a stark reversal, the California Supreme Court—in a 6-1 vote—upheld the constitutionality of Proposition 49. Tracking our “friend of the court” brief in the case, the court recognized that advisory ballot measures (like Proposition 49) are consistent with the U.S. Constitution’s text and history, the principle of popular sovereignty at the Constitution’s core, and the use of similar measures as part of other constitutional reform movements throughout American history.


CAC Civil Rights Director David Gans said, “In a resounding victory for the power of the people to overturn rulings that pervert our Constitution, the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 49, giving Californians the right to show their support for a constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United and return to the people the power to regulate the corrosive influence of money in politics. The majority opinion, written by Justice Kathryn Werdegar, laid out the text and history of Article V and the long use of advisory ballot measures in support of proposed constitutional amendments, both of which were detailed in CAC’s brief. ‘The framers of the federal Constitution,’ the majority affirmed, ‘accorded the people’s views a foundational role.’” 


CAC Counsel Tom Donnelly continued, “Americans remain deeply concerned about the corrupting influence of money in politics, Californians included. Today, in a sharp reversal from the temporary ruling that removed Proposition 49 from the ballot over a year ago, the Supreme Court gives California voters a clear say in helping to find a solution.”






CAC’s “friend of the court” brief in Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association v. Padilla: 


“Money in Politics in California: Let the Voters Have Their Say,” Tom Donnelly, Huffington Post, October 5, 2015: 




Constitutional Accountability Center ( is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history.



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