Author: California Constitution Center

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...

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...

SCOCA year in review 2020

SCOCA year in review 2020

Overview Let’s first agree that 2020 was terrible: a calamitous presidency, raging wildfires, civil unrest, and a once-in-a-century pandemic. Those combined disasters forced California courts into improvise-and-adapt mode, with the Chief Justice and the Judicial Council exercising emergency powers to keep the courts running. Court appearances shifted to video, trial judges conducted spaced-out-and-masked trials, electronic filings and service became standard procedure, and the California Supreme Court itself held remote argument. The business of the courts and the administration of justice continued. And that difficult evolution mostly happened as things usually do in our state courts: quietly, and with minimal drama....

Sheriff removal procedures

Sheriff removal procedures

Overview Reforming oversight of California’s sheriffs recently made the news as part of a broader conversation about rethinking law enforcement. In particular, the Los Angeles board of supervisors is considering options to remove Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva. As a charter county, Los Angeles has express constitutional power to amend its charter to provide removal procedures for elected county officers like its sheriff. Charter counties have two primary options for removing their sheriffs: recall by the voters and removal by the county governing body. But because the state constitution requires all sheriffs to be elected, a charter county’s board of...

How California lives with two legislatures

How California lives with two legislatures

Overview California has two legislative bodies: the electorate and the legislature. Practical experience and separation-of-powers theory teach that two political actors simultaneously wielding the same governmental power is a recipe for disaster. Conflict is inevitable, and the greatest risk is a problem known as cycling: when two actors share a power, policy issues can cycle repeatedly between the actors and never be resolved. In this article we examine how the legislative powers of the California electorate and the legislature interact, and use a current initiative proposal as a practical example to show how the restrictions on the legislature’s ability to...

The proposed Palo Alto wealth tax has many defects

The proposed Palo Alto wealth tax has many defects

Overview In Palo Alto, a man named Kevin Creaven recently published a notice of intent to begin gathering signatures to qualify a local ballot measure titled “The Wealth Tax Initiative.” The proposed measure would “levy a 2% wealth tax on net worth above $50 million, and a 3% wealth tax on net worth above $1 billion dollars; the revenue will be used to provide every permanent resident of [Palo Alto] a one-time payment of $2,500.” This article details the legal issues a court would likely address when reviewing this ballot proposal. We conclude that the measure is vulnerable to multiple...

California’s quarantine orders need not exempt churches

California’s quarantine orders need not exempt churches

Overview Some churches have resisted California’s quarantine orders, even suing the state for exemptions. These churches argue that the religious liberty guarantees in the federal and state constitutions require California to accommodate them by allowing in-person religious services during the COVID-19 pandemic. That argument lacks merit. The state can limit otherwise sacrosanct constitutional rights when necessary to defend public health. In a pandemic, the federal constitution does not require the government to treat churches differently from other places where people might gather and spread contagion. The California constitution is even more restrictive, and generally prohibits the state from preferring churches...

California’s legislature can — and should — meet remotely

California’s legislature can — and should — meet remotely

Overview On March 16, California’s Senate adopted SR-86 (Atkins), which amends that chamber of the state legislature’s standing rules to permit Senate and committee meetings in an emergency where “one or more Senators participate in the meeting remotely by telephone, teleconference, or other electronic means.” It also permits Senators to participate remotely by electronic means to vote during a rollcall vote. While the federal constitution might bar Congress from adopting remote meeting-and-voting rules, no comparable impediments apply to California’s legislature. The state constitution broadly empowers the legislature to adopt rules for its proceedings. And nothing in California law prohibits the...