Amador Valley Joint Union High School District v. State Board of Equalization

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Amador Valley Joint Union High School District v. State Board of Equalization is a 1978 decision of the California Supreme Court. The Amador Valley Joint Union High School District challenged the constitutionality of California's Proposition 13, which was approved by the state's voters in June 1978. The court upheld the constitutionality of Proposition 13.

The court's majority wrote in Amador that, "It is our solemn duty to 'jealously guard' the initiative process, it being 'one of the precious rights of our democratic process'."

Legal issues

In its ruling on Amador, the court confirmed that an initiative may not "revise" California's constitution; however, the court then said that Prop 13 did not amount to a revision.

The legal standard established by Amador about the distinction between a revision and an amendment is that a revision is a "substantial a)teration of the entire constitution, rather than to a less extensive change in one or more of its provisions."[1]

People v. Frierson

In a 1979 decision, People v. Frierson, the state's supreme court wrote at some length about its Amador decision:

"As we have recently explained, although the voters may amend the Constitution through the initiative process, a revision may not be achieved in this fashion. (Amador Valley, supra, at pp. 221-229; see Cal. Const., art. XVIII.) As interpreted by defendant, section 27 contemplates "removal of judicial review" of the death penalty from a carefully built state constitutional structure, thereby resulting in "a significant change in a principle underlying our system of democratic government and can only be accomplished by constitutional revision."
"In Amador Valley, we observed that "even a relatively simple enactment may accomplish such far reaching changes in the nature of our {Page 25 Cal.3d 187} basic governmental plan as to amount to a revision. ..." (P. 223.) Section 27, however, accomplishes no such sweeping result. As we have explained, we retain broad powers of judicial review of death sentences to assure that each sentence has been properly and legally imposed and to safeguard against arbitrary or disproportionate treatment. In addition, we possess unrestricted authority to measure and appraise the constitutionality of the death penalty under the federal Constitution, in accordance with the guidelines established by the United States Supreme Court. We are thus led to the conclusion that the constitutional change worked by section 27 is not so broad as to constitute a fundamental constitutional revision."
"Furthermore, in Amador Valley, we cautioned that too strict a construction of the revision rule "would in effect bar the people from ever achieving any local tax relief through the initiative process." (P. 225.) Similarly, the adoption of defendant's position might effectively bar the people from ever directly reinstating the death penalty, despite the apparent belief of a very substantial majority of our citizens in the necessity and appropriateness of the ultimate punishment. Applying a reasonable interpretation, we conclude that article I, section 27, fairly may be deemed a constitutional amendment, not a revision."

See also

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References