Johnson v. Bradley

Decision Date24 December 1992
Docket NumberNo. S021118,S021118
Citation4 Cal.4th 389,14 Cal.Rptr.2d 470,841 P.2d 990
Parties, 841 P.2d 990 Ross JOHNSON et al., Petitioners, v. Tom BRADLEY as Mayor, etc., et al., Respondents.
CourtCalifornia Supreme Court

Ross Johnson and Quentin L. Kopp, in pro. per.

Kopp & Di Franco, San Francisco, and L. Michael Bogert, Sacramento, for petitioners.

Scott Hallabrin, Sacramento, and Jonathan S. Rothman, Berkeley, as amici curiae on behalf of petitioners.

James K. Hahn, City Atty., Anthony Saul Alperin, Asst. City Atty., and Raymond S. Ilgunas, Deputy City Atty., for respondents.

Louise H. Renne, City Atty., Burk E. Delventhal and Thomas J. Owen, Deputy City Attys., San Francisco, L.B. Elam, County Counsel, John F. Whisenhunt, Deputy County Counsel, Sharon Siedorf Cardenas, City Atty., Richard E. Archibald, Deputy City Atty., Sacramento, John W. Witt, City Atty., John M. Kaheny, Asst. City Atty., Christie C. Maguire, Deputy City Atty., San Diego, Geoffrey Cowan, Munger, Tolles & Olson, Bradley S. Phillips and Mark H. Epstien, Los Angeles, as amici curiae on behalf of respondents.

LUCAS, Chief Justice.

In this original mandamus proceeding petitioners seek to invalidate and enjoin enforcement of a campaign reform measure adopted by the voters of the City of Los Angeles to the extent the measure provides for the partial public funding of campaigns for city elective offices. Petitioners ground their challenge on Proposition 73, a statewide initiative that, inter alia, bans public financing of any election campaign. We conclude Proposition 73's prohibition on public financing does not preclude the City of Los Angeles from adopting and enforcing the public funding provisions of its campaign reform measure.

I. Facts and Procedure

In June 1988, State Assemblyman Ross Johnson and State Senator Quentin Kopp (two of the three petitioners in this action) 1 successfully sponsored a statewide initiative, Proposition 73, which added chapter 5 to the Political Reform Act of 1974 (Gov.Code, §§ 81000-91015). 2 Article 3 of chapter 5, entitled "Contribution Limitations," imposed various restrictions on contributions to and by candidates and political committees or parties ( §§ 85301-85307), and also provided in section 85300: "No public officer shall expend and no candidate shall accept any public moneys for the purpose of seeking elective office."

Two years later, the voters of the City of Los Angeles amended the city charter by adopting Measure H, a comprehensive campaign, election and ethics reform plan. Measure H provided for: (i) the creation of a city ethics commission to oversee, administer, and enforce the new ethics code; (ii) limitations on campaign contributions; 3 (iii) limitations on the total amount of contributions that a candidate may accept in any election; (iv) prohibitions on the transfer of contributions between candidates or their controlled committees; (v) disclosure of candidates' economic interests and income; and (vi) limitations on gifts and honoraria that public officials may accept.

Finally, unlike Proposition 73, which imposed limits on contributions but not on spending by candidates, Measure H also imposed spending limitations. The drafters of Measure H apparently realized that under Buckley v. Valeo (1976) 424 U.S 1, 96 S.Ct. 612, 46 L.Ed.2d 659, spending limitations are constitutionally invalid unless they are conditioned on a candidate's acceptance of public funds. (Id., at pp. 54-59, 96 S.Ct. at pp. 651-54; see especially id., at p. 57, fn. 65, 96 S.Ct. at p. 653, fn. 65.) Accordingly, Measure H provided for partial public funding of city political campaigns, and, correspondingly, spending limits on candidates who accept public funds. (Measure H, § 11.) As codified, this provision is now found in section 313 of the Los Angeles City Charter (hereafter charter section 313).

Subdivision A of charter section 313 sets out "Findings and Purposes." It states: "1. Monetary contributions to political campaigns are a legitimate form of participation in the American political process, but the financial strength of certain individuals or organizations should not permit them to exercise a disproportionate or controlling influence on the election of candidates. [p] 2. Therefore, this section is enacted to accomplish the following purposes: [p] (a) To assist serious candidates in raising enough money to communicate their views and positions adequately to the public without excessive expenditures or contributions, thereby promoting public discussion of the important issues involved in political campaigns. [p] (b) To limit overall expenditures in campaigns, thereby reducing the pressure on candidates to raise large campaign funds for defensive purposes, beyond the amount necessary to communicate reasonably with the voters. [p] (c) To provide a source of campaign financing in the form of limited public matching funds. [p] (d) To substantially restrict fund-raising in non-election years. [p] (e) To increase the value to candidates of smaller contributions. [p] (f) To reduce the excessive fund-raising advantage of incumbents and thus encourage competition for elective office. [p] (g) To help restore public trust in governmental and electoral institutions."

Subdivision B of charter section 313 provides for establishment of spending limitations and disbursement of matching funds. It states in relevant part, "The City shall ... adopt by ordinance limitations on campaign expenditures by candidates for elective City office who qualify for and accept public matching funds. The City shall adopt by ordinance regulations concerning the use of public funds to partially finance campaigns for elective City office through a system of matching public funds for qualifying campaign contributions...." Subdivision C(4) of charter section 313 provides, "[t]he funds used to make payments for matching funds shall come exclusively from City sources of revenues."

Petitioners invoked the original jurisdiction (Lungren v. Deukmejian (1988) 45 Cal.3d 727, 731, 248 Cal.Rptr. 115, 755 P.2d 299) of the Court of Appeal to enjoin respondents 4 from implementing and enforcing charter section 313. The Court of Appeal issued an alternative writ and a temporary restraining order enjoining implementation and enforcement of the challenged section, and set the matter for argument.

Petitioners claimed section 85300 prohibits use of public money to fund political campaigns in local as well as statewide elections, and that charter section 313 is thus invalid and unenforceable. Respondents asserted petitioners lacked standing to sue, and, in any event, have failed to proceed against proper parties. On the merits, respondents claimed the City of Los Angeles, as a charter city under the state Constitution, may enact and enforce laws that conflict with general state laws, so long as the city regulates a "municipal affair" rather than a matter of "statewide concern," and that the decision to expend city monies as part of its electoral process reforms is a matter of local, not statewide, concern. Amici curiae on behalf of respondents argued that a then-recent federal district court decision rendered section 85300 inoperative, and that there was accordingly no conflict between general law and the city's charter.

The Court of Appeal rejected respondents' procedural claims, finding that at least one petitioner (Bernardi) had standing and that relief was properly sought against respondents. It then rejected the argument of amici curiae on behalf of respondents that section 85300 had been rendered inoperative as a result of proceedings (not then final) in the federal district court. Finally, by a split vote, it agreed with respondents that a charter city's decision to provide its own public funds to finance city political campaigns is a "municipal affair" and not a matter of "statewide concern," and, hence charter section 313 prevails over section 85300. Accordingly, the court discharged the alternative writ, denied the peremptory writ of mandate, and dissolved the temporary stay. We granted review to address the municipal affairs issue. 5

II. The Constitutional Authority of Charter Cities Over "Municipal Affairs"
A. The Evolution of "Home Rule" in California

Under the California Constitution of 1849, cities were "but subordinate subdivisions of the State Government," and the Legislature had power to "enlarge or restrict" city powers. (San Francisco v. Canavan (1872) 42 Cal. 541, 557.) After the Constitution of 1879 was adopted, this court declared it was "manifestly the intent" of the drafters "to emancipate municipal governments from the authority and control formerly exercised over them by the Legislature." (People v. Hoge (1880) 55 Cal. 612, 618.) But, as one commentator observed, "[t]he cities ... gained but little nourishment from this statement, for on its face [former] Section 6 of Article XI provided that general laws should override municipal charters and local laws." 6 (Comment, Municipal Corporations: Municipal Home Rule; Municipal Market as a Public Purpose (1923) 11 Cal.L.Rev. 446; see, generally, McBain, The Law and the Practice of Municipal Home Rule (1916), p. 200 et seq.)

Thereafter we held in a number of cases that the 1879 Constitution did in fact continue to subordinate charter city legislation to general state laws (Davies v. City of Los Angeles (1890) 86 Cal. 37, 41, 24 P. 771, and cases cited therein), and that if the power of "the legislature to interfere by general laws with the local affairs of a city ... is an evil affecting the rights of city governments, the remedy is by amendment of the constitution." (Id., at p. 42, 24 P. 771.)

In apparent response to Davies, supra, and related litigation, in 1896 article XI was amended in two significant respects. Former section 6 was revised to read as follows: "Cities or towns heretofore or hereafter organized, and all charters thereof framed or adopted by authority of the...

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