California Supreme Court Blocks Anti-tax Referendum; Backs Newsom, Democrats

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Ringo H.W. Chiu / Associated Press

The California Supreme Court blocked a ballot initiative for the first time in 25 years Thursday in a unanimous decision against a referendum that would have required voters to approve any state or local tax increases.

Sacramento-area Fox 40 reported:

The initiative, known as the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act, would have made raising or introducing new taxes in the state more challenging, requiring voter approval for any new taxes at the local and state level.
The measure was already approved for the ballot, having gathered enough signatures, and was backed by the business community, including the California Business Roundtable, which argued that the proposal was necessary to protect taxpayers in a state they believe is over-taxed.
Governor Gavin Newsom, labor leaders and other Democratic leaders were against the measure, with Newsom’s administration and Democratic legislators filing a lawsuit to get it removed from the ballot on the grounds that it would revise the state’s Constitution and interfere with the basic role of government.

CalMatters.org added:

The extraordinary decision marks the first time in more than two decades that the court has struck an initiative from the ballot following a full hearing. It last happened in 1999, with a measure that sought to restrict state officers’ pay and transfer redistricting power out of the Legislature, though a few others since then were removed after the proponents did not defend against legal challenges.

Critics called into question the intentions of the seven-member court — six of whom were appointed by Democratic governors, including three by Newsom. Proponents of the initiative slammed the ruling as a travesty and a “gut-punch to direct democracy in California.”
Critics called into question the intentions of the seven-member court — six of whom were appointed by Democratic governors, including three by Newsom. Proponents of the initiative slammed the ruling as a travesty and a “gut-punch to direct democracy in California.”

The ballot initiative had gathered 1.4 million signatures, which will now be set aside. The ruling is an extraordinary one for the state supreme court, but is also just the latest example of state interference in the ballot initiative process.

In 2018, Democrat officials gave a misleading title to Proposition 6, which would have repealed a state gas tax hike. They called it “Eliminates Certain Road Repair and Transportation Funding” instead of “Gas Tax Repeal Initiative.”

A Democrat-backed initiative to raise the threshold for approving anti-tax referenda will still be on the 2024 ballot.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, “The Trumpian Virtues: The Lessons and Legacy of Donald Trump’s Presidency,” now available on Audible. He is also the author of the e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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