SCOCAblog by the California Constitution Center and the Hastings Law Journal

It’s time to amend the Emergency Services Act

It’s time to amend the Emergency Services Act

Overview California’s Emergency Services Act (ESA) contains a provision granting the governor authority to exercise all the police power vested in the state during emergencies.[1] This provision, which is restricted to unforeseen problems and may only be invoked where necessary to further the ESA’s purposes, has been used multiple times: in response to oil shortages in the 1970s, the Medfly infestation in the 1990s, and the 2020–21 wildfires. During the COVID-19 pandemic Governor Gavin Newsom used this power extensively. Although this was an appropriate response to the pandemic, it uncovered a latent defect in the ESA: the absence of mechanisms...

Religious exemptions may spark a revolution

Religious exemptions may spark a revolution

Overview Religious exemptions to mandatory vaccination programs may spark a revolution in religion jurisprudence. Existing U.S. Supreme Court religion doctrine should disfavor religious exemptions: under Employment Division v. Smith, a religious belief does not excuse compliance with neutral laws of general application.[1] And some state constitutions (like California’s) arguably bar giving religious individuals or organizations a benefit (like vaccination exemption) that is unavailable to others. But three factors may force an evolution here: federal law will not permit inquiry into sincerity; several high court justices seem ready to overturn Smith; and after Espinoza v. Montana state constitutions now arguably can’t...

Two upcoming recall events

Two upcoming recall events

California Votes: The Effort to Recall Governor Gavin Newsom Friday, September 10, 2021 12:00pm to 1:00pm Zoom Webinar Registration link: Webinar: California Votes: The Effort to Recall Governor Gavin Newsom “Post-Mortem” Should the Recall be Recalled or Reformed? Friday, September 24, 2021 4:00 to 6:00 Zoom Webinar Registration link: Webinar: Recall Post-Mortem Should the Recall be Recalled or Reformed?

Answers to the SCOCA trivia challenge

Answers to the SCOCA trivia challenge

And now the answers to the SCOCA justices trivia quiz. Thanks again to the friendly law librarians, who were good sports and kindly donated their time and expertise to checking these facts. 1. The only justice to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Stephen Johnson Field served on the California Supreme Court for about five and half years (as the court’s fifth chief justice for part of that time) before serving nearly 35 years on the U.S. Supreme Court. 2. The only justice born in the 1700s. Alexander Outlaw Anderson was born November 10, 1794 at Soldier’s Rest in Tennessee....

A trivia challenge for the SCOCA staff attorneys

A trivia challenge for the SCOCA staff attorneys

Judicial staff attorneys are talented public servants who dedicate their lives to quiet service behind the scenes. To celebrate California’s reopening and give them a bit of post-pandemic fun for the upcoming holiday weekend, we prepared a SCOCA justices trivia quiz. We will post the answers on Fri 30 Jul 2021, so anyone can play along. Having researched our answers and checked them with authoritative sources (be nice to your local law librarians!) we are confident in their accuracy. But we’re good sports and truth seekers, so if the staff attorneys can demonstrate that their answer to a question is...

It’s official: SOS chooses easy recall qualification procedure

It’s official: SOS chooses easy recall qualification procedure

The official website for the California Secretary of State has updated and its FAQ for the 2021 gubernatorial recall election now describes the qualification procedure. Secretary Weber decided to use the same primary candidate qualification requirements that Kevin Shelley employed in the 2003 Gray Davis recall: A replacement candidate must follow existing primary election nomination procedures to run for the office of Governor and must file the required paperwork no less than 59 days before the scheduled recall election. A replacement candidate must: File with the county elections official, in which the candidate is registered to vote, the following: A...

Opinion Analysis: In re Humphrey (S247278)

Opinion Analysis: In re Humphrey (S247278)

Overview On March 25, 2021, the California Supreme Court handed down its long-awaited decision in In re Humphrey (S247278). The case presented two key questions concerning bail: whether cash bail is unconstitutional, and how to resolve two apparently conflicting California constitutional provisions concerning bail. The decision answered the first question, and demurred on the second: The court held that pretrial detention based solely on a person’s inability to pay is unconstitutional. Because liberty is the norm in the criminal justice system, there is a fundamental right to bail, and bail may be denied only in narrow and unusual circumstances. Yet...

To preserve our constitutional democracy we must teach civics

To preserve our constitutional democracy we must teach civics

Our nation faces a problem: as civil discourse becomes more partisan and heated, with fewer spaces available for neutral debate and collaborative discussion, more people will become discouraged and react by turning away from civic engagement. That’s especially true for students, who often search in vain for meaningful ways to be effective change agents. Both adults and students can become disillusioned and cynical about the democratic process when opportunities for civic engagement and conversation are lacking. But it’s far worse when a student tunes out — that’s our future turning away. The solution is not less engagement, but more; not...

The University of California can require COVID-19 vaccinations

The University of California can require COVID-19 vaccinations

Overview As we continue the steady march toward full-scale reopening, colleges and universities across the country are preparing their return to in-person instruction in a post-pandemic world. Some colleges have announced that they will require students to be vaccinated before they return to campus, while California’s postsecondary institutions are assessing their public health safety plans for next fall. Yesterday the University of California and California State University announced that they will “require COVID-19 vaccinations for all students, faculty and staff on campus properties this fall once the Food and Drug Administration gives formal approval to the vaccines and supplies are...

Event announcement: California redistricting 2021

Event announcement: California redistricting 2021

May 7, 2021, 1:00 to 5:00Click here to register! Every ten years, based upon the census, states redraw lines for congressional and state legislative seats; some win, some lose. This intensely political process was delayed and reshaped this year by the global pandemic. By the end of April, the relevant data will be released and the second California Citizens Redistricting Commission will go to work. It must confront the potential loss of a congressional seat, changes to the Voting Rights Act, defining communities of interest, and new rules governing how incarcerated individuals will be geographically assigned, among other issues. Program...