Legislature v. Eu

Decision Date10 October 1991
Docket NumberNo. S019660,S019660
Citation54 Cal.3d 492,286 Cal.Rptr. 283,816 P.2d 1309
CourtCalifornia Supreme Court
Parties, 816 P.2d 1309, 60 USLW 2279 LEGISLATURE OF the STATE OF CALIFORNIA et al., Petitioners, v. March Fong EU, as Secretary of State, etc., et al., Respondents; Californians For a Citizen Government, Intervener.

Denise Hulett, Antonia Hernandez, Remcho, Johansen & Purcell, Joseph Remcho, Robin B. Johansen, Lowell Finley, Barbara A. Brenner and Charles C. Marson, for petitioners.

Brad Sherman, Ralph Santiago Abascal, Jenner & Block, Brent N. Rushforth, Bruce J. Ennis, Jonathan B. Sallett, Donald B. Verrilli and Scott A. Sinder, as amici curiae on behalf of petitioners.

Daniel E. Lungren, Atty. Gen., Robert L. Mukai, Chief Asst. Atty. Gen., N. Eugene Hill, Asst. Atty. Gen., Cathy A. Neff, Manuel M. Medeiros, Linda A. Cabatic, Ramon M. de la Guardia, Daniel G. Stone and Richard Thomson, Deputy Attys. Gen., Lloyd M. Harmon, Jr., County Counsel, San Diego, Diane Bardsley, Chief Deputy County Counsel, Pamela T. Jones, Deputy County Counsel, Lawrence E. Gercovich, D. Robert Shuman, Richard J. Chivaro, Hufstedler, Kaus & Ettinger, Otto M. Kaus, Joseph L. Wyatt, Jr., Michael V. Toumanoff and Judith R. Starr, for respondents.

Stephen R. Barnett, as amicus curiae on behalf of respondents.

Ronald A. Zumbrun, John H. Findley, Jonathan M. Coupal, Meredith M. Chang and Deborah J. Martin, for intervener.

Martin A. Schainbaum, Daniel J. Popeo and John C. Scully, as amici curiae on behalf of respondents and intervener.

LUCAS, Chief Justice.

In this proceeding, we consider constitutional challenges to an initiative measure adopted at the November 6, 1990, General Election. This measure, entitled by its framers "The Political Reform Act of 1990," was designated on the ballot as Proposition 140. Its stated purpose is to "restore a free and democratic system of fair elections, and to encourage qualified candidates to seek public office" by limiting "the powers of incumbency." (Cal.Const., art. IV, § 1.5, added by Prop. 140.) The measure seeks to accomplish these goals by these three separate reforms: "Retirement benefits [of legislators] must be restricted, state-financed incumbent staff and support services limited, and limitations placed upon the number of terms which may be served." (Ibid.)

Petitioners herein include the California Legislature (both Senate and Assembly), certain individual legislators from both houses, and various citizens, voters and taxpayers. Petitioners jointly assert a variety of challenges to the constitutionality of Proposition 140.

Respondents are various public officials (including the Secretary of State, the state Controller, and the Board of Administration of the Public Employees Retirement System [PERS] ) responsible for implementing, enforcing or applying the new measure. Intervener, Californians for a Citizen Government, is the organization that sponsored Proposition 140. Several amici curiae have filed briefs supporting the various parties.

Only intervener (represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation) and respondent Secretary of State (represented by the Attorney General) have filed briefs adverse to petitioners. Respondent state Controller remains neutral, while respondent PERS supports petitioners' challenge to the pension limitations of Proposition 140, but takes no position on the remaining issues. Nonetheless, for convenience, we sometimes refer to intervener and respondent Secretary of State jointly as "respondents."

The petition for mandate sought original relief in this court. Although we customarily decline to exercise such jurisdiction, preferring initial disposition by the lower courts, the present case involves issues of sufficient public importance to justify departing from our usual course. As we recently observed in Raven v. Deukmejian (1990) 52 Cal.3d 336, 340, 276 Cal.Rptr. 326, 801 P.2d 1077 (assessing the constitutionality of Proposition 115, an initiative measure adopted at the June 1990 Primary Election), quoting from an earlier case, " 'It is uniformly agreed that the issues are of great public importance and should be resolved promptly. Accordingly, under well settled principles, it is appropriate that we exercise our original jurisdiction. [Citations.]' ..." (See also Planned Parenthood Affiliates v. Van de Kamp (1986) 181 Cal.App.3d 245, 262-265, 226 Cal.Rptr. 361.)

Pending our review of the issues, on June 14, 1991, we temporarily stayed operation of section 5 of Proposition 115, which imposes budgetary restrictions on the Legislature, as hereafter discussed.

The principles that guide us in evaluating the validity of initiative measures such as Proposition 140 are likewise well settled. Although the legislative power under our state Constitution is vested in the Legislature, "the people reserve to themselves the powers of initiative and referendum." (Cal. Const., art. IV, § 1.) Accordingly, the initiative power must be liberally construed to promote the democratic process. (Raven v. Deukmejian, supra, 52 Cal.3d at p. 341, 276 Cal.Rptr. 326, 801 P.2d 1077.) Indeed, it is our solemn duty to jealously guard the precious initiative power, and to resolve any reasonable doubts in favor of its exercise. (Ibid., and cases cited.) As with statutes adopted by the Legislature, all presumptions favor the validity of initiative measures and mere doubts as to validity are insufficient; such measures must be upheld unless their unconstitutionality clearly, positively, and unmistakably appears. (Calfarm Ins. Co. v. Deukmejian (1989) 48 Cal.3d 805, 814, 258 Cal.Rptr. 161, 771 P.2d 1247 [evaluating the constitutionality of Prop. 103, an insurance rate initiative measure adopted at the Nov. 1988 Gen. Elec.].)

As will appear, we conclude that although the pension restrictions of Proposition 140 are invalid as to incumbent legislators, the measure is constitutionally valid in all other respects. Before addressing petitioners' challenges, we briefly outline the basic provisions of the new measure, which consists entirely of various amendments to the state Constitution.

A. Statement of Purpose and Findings

Section 1.5 is added to article IV of the Constitution (the "Legislative" article), to set forth various findings and statements of the framers' intent. In pertinent part, this introductory provision recites that although "the Founding Fathers established a system of representative government based upon free, fair, and competitive elections," nonetheless an "extremely high number of incumbents" are reelected by reason of "[t]he ability of legislators to serve unlimited number of terms, to establish their own retirement system, and to pay for staff and support services at state expense...."

The introductory statement continues by noting that "These unfair incumbent advantages discourage qualified candidates from seeking public office and create a class of career politicians, instead of the citizen representatives envisioned by the Founding Fathers." The statement concludes by stating that, "To restore a free and democratic system of fair elections, and to encourage qualified candidates to seek public office, the people find and declare that the powers of incumbency must be limited," as provided by the substantive amendments we now discuss.

B. Term Limitations

The measure imposes specific term limitations for state legislators and various state constitutional officers. Persons elected or appointed on or after November 6, 1990, to the office of Governor (Cal. Const., art. V, § 2), Lieutenant Governor (id., § 11), Attorney General (ibid.), Controller (ibid.), Secretary of State (ibid.), Treasurer (ibid.), Superintendent of Public Instruction (id., art. IX, § 2), or to the State Board of Equalization (id., art. XIII, § 17), or the state Senate (id., art. IV, § 2, subd. (a)), are limited to two terms. Members of the Assembly are limited to three terms (ibid.).

Section 7 is added to article XX of the Constitution (the "Miscellaneous Subjects" article), to explain that the foregoing term limitations "apply only to terms to which persons are elected or appointed on or after November 6, 1990, except that an incumbent Senator whose office is not on the ballot for the general election on that date may serve only one additional term," and that the foregoing term limits "shall not apply to any unexpired term to which a person is elected or appointed if the remainder of the term is less than half of the full term."

C. Budgetary Limitations

The measure imposes a budgetary limitation for the Legislature. Section 7.5 is added to article IV of the Constitution to provide that, for the forthcoming fiscal year, "the total aggregate expenditures of the Legislature for the compensation of members and employees of, and the operating expenses and equipment for, the Legislature may not exceed" $950,000 "per member" for that fiscal year, or 80 percent of the amount of money expended for such purposes in the preceding year, whichever is less.

Additionally, new section 7.5 of article IV of the Constitution provides that, for each fiscal year thereafter, the total aggregate expenditures may not exceed the amount expended during the previous year, "adjusted and compounded by an amount equal to the percentage increase in the appropriations limit for the state established pursuant to Article XIII B" of the Constitution.

D. Pension Limitations

Finally, the measure imposes limitations on legislators' pension rights. New section 4.5 is added to article IV of the Constitution to provide that the state will contribute the employer's share to the federal Social Security system on behalf of participating legislators "elected to or serving in the Legislature on or after November 1, 1990," but "[n]o other pension or retirement benefit shall accrue as a result of service in the Legislature, such service not being intended as a career occupation."

This same...

To continue reading

Request your trial
195 cases
  • State Farm Gen. Ins. Co. v. Lara
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • October 29, 2021
    ...Proposition 103 campaign, because party failed to persuade court that contents may be noticed]; cf. Legislature v. Eu (1991) 54 Cal.3d 492, 504-505, 286 Cal.Rptr. 283, 816 P.2d 1309 [appropriate to consider ballot pamphlets presented to voters in determining meaning of proposition].)C. Regu......
  • Alameda Cnty. Deputy Sheriff's Ass'n v. Alameda Cnty. Employees' Ret. Ass'n
    • United States
    • California Supreme Court
    • July 30, 2020
    ...contract clause. ( Cal Fire , supra , 6 Cal.5th at p. 987, 244 Cal.Rptr.3d 149, 435 P.3d 433 ; Legislature v. Eu (1991) 54 Cal.3d 492, 528, 286 Cal.Rptr. 283, 816 P.2d 1309 ( Eu ).) At issue here is whether PEPRA's amendment of section 31461 to exclude certain types of compensation from com......
  • Alameda Cnty. Deputy Sheriff's Ass'n v. Alameda Cnty. Employees' Ret. Assn.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • January 8, 2018
    ...to a careful examination of the nature and purpose of the state legislation.’ " ( Ibid. )Thereafter, in Legislature v. Eu (1991) 54 Cal.3d 492, 286 Cal.Rptr. 283, 816 P.2d 1309, the Supreme Court elaborated that vested pension benefits include both the right to receive any such benefits upo......
  • Cal Fire Local 2881 v. Cal. Pub. Employees' Ret. Sys.
    • United States
    • California Supreme Court
    • March 4, 2019
    ...by Stats. 2013, ch. 526, § 13.)So far as we have been able to ascertain, there is nothing in the legislative history that explains the Legislature’s decision to terminate the purchase of ARS credit. Its likely intent, however, can be inferred from a 12-point plan for pension reform that for......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 books & journal articles
  • Statutes as Contracts? The 'California Rule' and Its Impact on Public Pension Reform
    • United States
    • Iowa Law Review No. 97-4, May 2012
    • May 1, 2012
    ...thereunder. 15. Nat’l R.R. Passenger Corp. v. Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry. Co., 470 U.S. 451, 465–66 (1985). 16. Legislature v. Eu, 816 P.2d 1309, 1333–35 (Cal. 1991). 2012] STATUTES AS CONTRACTS? 1033 interpretation is contrary to federal Contract Clause jurisprudence, which holds that ......
  • The transformation of the California Supreme Court: 1977-1997.
    • United States
    • Albany Law Review Vol. 61 No. 5, August 1998
    • August 6, 1998
    ...(holding that prayers at a public school graduation violated the U.S. and California Constitutions). (69) See Legislature of Cal. v. Eu, 816 P.2d 1309, 1329-30 (Cal. 1991) (holding that term limits do not violate equal protection guarantees and are not bills of (70) See Wilson v. Eu, 823 P.......
  • Until Death Do Us Part: Marital Property Characterization in the Postmortem Setting
    • United States
    • California Lawyers Association California Trusts & Estates Quarterly (CLA) No. 21-4, June 2015
    • Invalid date
    ...look to an extrinsic document for help interpreting an ordinance that is clear on its face. This is the rule of Legislature v. Eu (1991) 54 Cal.3d 492, 504-505, 286 Cal. Rptr. 283, 816 P.2d 1309, on which petitioner would rely. Instead, a court looks to " 'indicia of voters' intent other th......
  • An Upside to City of Upland: Clarification on the Ability to Refer Majority-vote Budget Trailer Bills
    • United States
    • California Lawyers Association Public Law Journal (CLA) No. 42-1, March 2019
    • Invalid date
    ...challenged measure, and [] their 'fears and doubts' are not highly authoritative in construing the measure." (Legislature v. Eu (1991) 54 Cal.3d 492, 505; citing DeBartolo Corp. v. Fla. Gulf Coast Trades Council (1988) 485 U.S. 568, 585.)43. Ballot Pamphlet, General Election (Nov. 2, 2010),......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT