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Prop 49 Battle Reaches California Supreme Court

Local governments in California often seek voters’ opinions on non-binding advisory measures. But can the state Legislature do the same thing? The California Supreme Court heard oral arguments on that question Tuesday.

When the California Legislature tried to ask voters last year about amending the federal constitution to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s "Citizens United" campaign finance ruling, the California Supreme Court justices said, "Not until we weigh in!"

On Tuesday, the justices weighed in. The case’s oral arguments brought tough questions for both sides.

Justice Goodwin Liu told the attorney representing the Legislature, who’s defending Proposition 49 that "the Legislature here is claiming some type of power that the people don’t have."

Later, Justice Kathryn Werdeger asked the attorney representing anti-tax groups that believe Prop 49 is unconstitutional, "Do you dispute that the Legislature has the power to investigate before exercising its powers?"

The justices have 90 days to decide whether to permanently remove Prop 49 from the ballot or allow voters to decide it next year.

 Prop 49

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio