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Will Liberals Regret Jerry Brown’s High Court Victory?

June 9, 2016

By Scott Shafer : KQED – excerpt

The California Supreme Court’s liberal and broad reading of a new state election law handed Gov. Jerry Brown a big legal victory Monday, allowing his controversial parole reform measure to appear on the November ballot.

At issue was Brown’s revision of an existing ballot measure on juvenile justice that proponents allowed the governor to change. Now it also includes major alterations to existing parole laws.

Critics, led by the California District Attorneys Association, sued arguing that the governor’s changes violated an election law he signed and short circuited adequate review of the new measure by Attorney General Kamala Harris and the public.

A lower court agreed, but the state Supreme Court reversed that ruling Monday. The justices said the Legislature did not intend to preclude substantive amendments to existing ballot measures…

Justice Chin said the ruling would render the public review process “meaningless.”

“Dramatically changing the sentencing laws — by permitting early parole for some offenders, contrary to the detailed sentencing scheme currently in effect — is not reasonably germane to changing the treatment of juvenile and youthful offenders in the criminal justice system,” Chin wrote…

So what’s the potential impact on future ballot measure proposals going forward?

“It will be very easy to amend existing proposals,” Levinson said. “It could be the case that the next proposal could be very conservative, and then we all have to live with this decision.”

In other words, imagine proponents of a benign measure on, say, promoting recycling that gets changed after the public comment period to mandate any local recycling program be cost neutral, which could essentially gut most recycling efforts. Theoretically at least, proponents of that idea will be able to use this decision to protect their amendments from opponents, just as Jerry Brown did… (more)

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