Taxpayers to Limit Campaign Spending v. Fair Political Practices Commission

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Taxpayers to Limit Campaign Spending v. Fair Political Practices Commission was decided by the California Supreme Court on November 1, 1990. It concerned the interpretation of Article II, Section 10 (b) of the California Constitution, which states:

(b) If provisions of 2 or more measures approved at the same election conflict, those of the measure receiving the highest affirmative vote shall prevail.

The central question was whether only the provisions of the superseding measure take effect or whether the provisions prevail on points of conflict. The court determined that:

When two or more measures are competing initiatives, either because they are expressly offered as "all-or-nothing" alternatives or because each creates a comprehensive regulatory scheme related to the same subject, section 10(b) mandates that only the provisions of the measure receiving the highest number of affirmative votes be enforced.[1]

The court argued that combining initiatives piecemeal could lead to outcomes unintended by voters. (A notable example of such unintended consequences occurred in Oregon in 1908.)

The case concerned California Proposition 68 (1988) and California Proposition 73 (1988). Both initiatives were about regulating political campaign contributions. They both passed, but 73 received more votes than 68. The same law firm (Remcho, Johansen & Purcell) that brought this action then sued, in the case of Service Employees International Union v. Fair Political Practices Commission, and got Proposition 73 invalidated as well.

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