California Proposition 20, Political Candidates Who Defame Their Opponents (1984)

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California Proposition 20 was on the June 5, 1984 statewide primary ballot in California as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved.
  • Yes: 2,472,075 (51.9%) Approveda
  • No: 2,290,901 (48.1%)

Proposition 20 amended the California Constitution by adding a provision to prevent any successful candidate for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, a state elective office or a local elective office in California from holding that office, if

  • That person is found in a civil action to have made a libelous or slanderous statement against an opposing candidate during the course of the election campaign.
  • The libelous or slanderous statement was a major contributing cause in the defeat of the opposing candidate, and
  • The statement was made with actual knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or true.

Constitutional changes

California Constitution
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Proposition 20 amended Section 10 of Article VII of the California Constitution.

Ballot summary

Proposition 20's official ballot summary said, "Adds a section to the Constitution providing that no person who is found liable in a civil action for making libelous or slanderous statements against an opposing candidate during an election campaign shall retain the seat to which elected where it is judicially found that: (1) the libel or slander was a major contributing cause in the defeat of an opposing candidate and (2) the statement was made with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or true. Contains other provisions."

Fiscal impact

The fiscal estimate provided by the California Legislative Analyst's Office said:

Adoption of this measure would have no direct fiscal effect on the state or local governments.
If, however, a successful candidate were disqualified from assuming or holding office as a result of the measure, local governments could incur additional costs if an election had to be held to fill the vacancy. These costs could be significant if the election did not coincide with a regularly scheduled election.

Path to the ballot

The California State Legislature voted to put Proposition 20 on the ballot via Assembly Constitutional Amendment 74 (Statutes of 1982, Resolution Chapter 181).

External links