The California Supreme Court is considering if Gov. Jerry Brown's criminal justice ballot initiative should be allowed to continue qualifying for the November election.
The measure would allow earlier releases for some nonviolent inmates. Brown rewrote a juvenile justice initiative that had already passed through its public comment period, instead of introducing a new measure.
During oral arguments Thursday, Justice Kathryn Werdegar questioned if that was appropriate.
"What's the purpose of the comment period if, after that, as here, the proposed initiative is changed?" Werdegar asks. "The comment period becomes irrelevant and an exercise in futility."
Attorneys defending the measure argued the public has other opportunities to weigh in, including by signing petitions to qualify it, whereas the public comment period is intended to help proponents design amendments.
Some justices appeared to support that argument, saying the process is intended to allow broad amendments to initiatives.
The court has allowed initiative backers to collect signatures while considering the matter.