Cal­i­for­nia dream­ing

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

If Propo­si­tion 9, a bal­lot mea­sure that seeks to break Cal­i­for­nia into three new states, is passed by vot­ers in Novem­ber, it would throw the en­tire state into up­heaval and un­cer­tainty for months, if not years, dur­ing which the bat­tle over the state’s fate would con­tinue in the courts and in Congress.

Res­i­dents would have to live with the re­al­ity that one day they could wake up in a new po­lit­i­cal en­tity, where all the fa­mil­iar laws, pro­tec­tions and pub­lic re­sources on which they re­lied had been dis­solved. Busi­nesses might rea­son­ably choose to re­lo­cate to states not un­der­go­ing an ex­is­ten­tial cri­sis. Cred­i­tors would surely be wary of lend­ing money to a state that might not ex­ist in the im­me­di­ate fu­ture. Years of fight­ing would en­sue over how to split the state’s shared as­sets.

But a group of en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists ar­gues that the state shouldn’t have to go through all that tur­moil be­cause the mea­sure should never have qual­i­fied for the bal­lot in the first place. The group filed a law­suit Mon­day ask­ing the Cal­i­for­nia Supreme Court to re­move Propo­si­tion 9 on the grounds that a cit­i­zen ini­tia­tive can­not be used to in­val­i­date the state Con­sti­tu­tion.

The state’s high court should waste no time tak­ing up the is­sue. Ideally, the court would set­tle the mat­ter be­fore Aug. 13, the day that the Novem­ber bal­lot goes to the printer. This mea­sure is too mo­men­tous, and po­ten­tially de­struc­tive, to al­low any ques­tions about its con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity to linger.

If what op­po­nents say is true, the ar­gu­ments for di­vid­ing the state are ir­rel­e­vant be­cause the mea­sure should never have been placed on the bal­lot. In an oped in The Times, UC Irvine law pro­fes­sor Richard L. Hasen ex­plained that the Cal­i­for­nia Supreme Court has long held that cit­i­zen ini­tia­tives may not change the state Con­sti­tu­tion in ways that sub­stan­tially al­ter the struc­ture of state gov­ern­ment. De­mol­ish­ing the state gov­ern­ment would be con­sid­ered a sub­stan­tial al­ter­ation by any rea­son­able stan­dard. Un­der those prece­dents, any se­ri­ous re­vi­sion re­quires a con­sti­tu­tional con­ven­tion called by a su­per­ma­jor­ity of both houses of the Leg­is­la­ture.

What does the main backer of the pro­posal have to say to de­fend it all from this le­gal at­tack? We don’t know. Nei­ther he nor his cam­paign has re­sponded to re­quests for com­ment. But if he wants to keep his mea­sure on the bal­lot, he can ex­plain it to the court.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.