This fall California voters will be asked what they think of a controversial US Supreme Court decision. But their answer may not mean much.
Governor Jerry Brown is allowing an advisory question to be placed on the November ballot. It asks Californians if they think the US Constitution should be amended to overturn the Citizens United ruling. That 2010 decision by the Supreme Court allows corporations and unions to spend freely in political campaigns.
Brown let the legislation calling for the advisory question become law without his signature. Democratic Senator Ted Lieu authored the bill. In a statement, Brown says the bill and the vote will have no legal effect and he says ballots should not be cluttered with nonbinding measures. But, he says he understands the legislature’s enthusiasm for the issue and he also opposes the Citizens United ruling.
“I too believe that Citizens United was wrongly decided and grossly underestimated the corrupting influence of unchecked money on our democratic institutions,” he says in a statement.
Brown says he’s withholding his signature as a way of indicating he won’t make a practice of approving advisory questions for the ballot.
In a statement, Lieu praised the governor’s decision.
“Gov. Brown and the Legislature understand that free and open elections are central to our Democracy,” he says. “They also know it’s outrageous that out-of-state interests can spend millions to influence state elections. This must stop.”
Lieu says he agrees with Brown that advisory questions should be used sparingly.