Marine Forests Soc. v. CAL. COASTAL COM'N, No. S113466.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Citation36 Cal.4th 1,30 Cal.Rptr.3d 30,113 P.3d 1062
Decision Date23 June 2005
Docket NumberNo. S113466.
PartiesMARINE FORESTS SOCIETY et al., Plaintiffs and Respondents, v. CALIFORNIA COASTAL COMMISSION et al., Defendants and Appellants.

30 Cal.Rptr.3d 30
36 Cal.4th 1
113 P.3d 1062

MARINE FORESTS SOCIETY et al., Plaintiffs and Respondents,
v.
CALIFORNIA COASTAL COMMISSION et al., Defendants and Appellants

No. S113466.

Supreme Court of California.

June 23, 2005.

Certiorari Denied October 31, 2005.


30 Cal.Rptr.3d 33
Bill Lockyer, Attorney General, Manuel M. Medeiros, State Solicitor General, Richard M. Frank and Tom Greene, Chief Assistant Attorneys General, J. Matthew Rodriquez, Assistant Attorney General, Joseph Barbieri, Alice Busching Reynolds and Lisa Trankley, Deputy Attorneys General, for Defendants and Appellants

Robert Garcia, and Katrina D. McIntosh, Santa Monica; Law Office of J. William Yeates, J. William Yeates, Mary U. Akens, Sacramento, Keith G. Wagner; California Environmental Law Project and Laurens H. Silver, for Planning and Conservation League, Sierra Club, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Environmental Defense Center, Natural Resources Defense Council, League for Coastal Protection, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Surfrider Foundation, Defenders of Wildlife, National Audubon Society—California, Amigos de Bolsa Chica, Big Sur Land Trust, Cal Beach Advocates, California Coastkeeper Alliance, California Coastal Protection Network, The Center for Law in the Public Interest, Earth Alert!, Heal the Bay, Latino Urban Forum, The Ocean Conservancy, Ocean Outfall Group, Orange County Coastkeeper, San Diego Baykeeper, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, SLO Coast Alliance, Vote the Coast, Wetlands Action Network and Wildlands Restoration Team as Amici Curiae on behalf of Defendants and Appellants.

The Zumbrun Law Firm, Ronald A. Zumbrun and Mark A. Teh, Sacramento, for Plaintiffs and Respondents.

Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, Joseph E. Petrillo, David P. Lanferman, San Francisco, Peter F. Ziblatt; Law Offices of Thomas D. Roth and Thomas D. Roth, for California Building Industry Association, Home Builders Association of Northern California, Building Industry Legal Defense Foundation, Building Industry Association of San Diego and California Association of Realtors, as Amici Curiae on behalf of Plaintiffs and Respondents.

James S. Burling, M. Reed Hopper, Sacramento, and Anne M. Hayes for Pacific Legal Foundation, as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Plaintiffs and Respondents.

Jenkins & Hogin, Christi Hogin, City Attorney, and Gregg Kovacevich, for the City of Malibu, as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Plaintiffs and Respondents.

Berger & Norton, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, and Michael M. Berger, for Signal Landmark and Hearthside Homes, as Amici Curiae on behalf of Plaintiffs and Respondents.

Karen Fumi Ibara, as Amicus Curiae, on behalf of Plaintiffs and Respondents.

30 Cal.Rptr.3d 34
Cox, Castle & Nicholson and Stanley W. Lamport, Los Angeles, for Land Use Preservation Defense Fund, as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Plaintiffs and Respondents

Law Offices of Michael T. Larsen and Michael T. Larsen, for Encinitas Country Day School, Inc., Kathleen Porterfield and M & M Development, LLC as Amici Curiae, on behalf of Plaintiffs and Respondents.

Stan Furmanski, Los Angeles, as Amicus Curiae, on behalf of Plaintiffs and Respondents.

Shaub, Williams & Nunziato, Edward E. Vaill and David R. Shaub, Los Angeles, for Californians for Local Coastal Planning, as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Plaintiffs and Respondents.

Robert Clark, as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Plaintiffs and Respondents.

Certiorari Denied October 31, 2005. See 126 S.Ct. 577.

GEORGE, C.J.

This case involves a constitutional challenge to the provisions of the California Coastal Act (Coastal Act or Act) governing the appointment and tenure of the members of the California Coastal Commission (Coastal Commission or Commission). At the time this action was commenced, the applicable statutes provided, in part, that one-third of the voting members of the Coastal Commission were to be appointed by the Governor, one-third by the Senate Committee on Rules (Senate Rules Committee), and one-third by the Speaker of the Assembly, and further provided that all members of the Commission were to serve a two-year term and were eligible for reappointment for succeeding two-year terms but were removable throughout their term in office at the pleasure of their appointing authority. (Pub. Resources Code, § 30301, subds. (e), (f), former § 30312, subd. (b), as enacted by Stats.1976, ch. 1330, § 1, p. 5970.)1 In their initial cause of action, plaintiffs asserted that this statutory structure—by authorizing members of the legislative branch to appoint a majority of the voting members of the Commission and enabling each appointing authority to remove its appointees at will—rendered the Coastal Commission a "legislative body" for purposes of the separation of powers clause of the California Constitution and that such a body was precluded from engaging in executive or judicial functions, such as granting, denying, or conditioning a development permit, or hearing and determining a cease and desist order. The complaint sought declaratory and injunctive relief, including an order enjoining the Commission from engaging in the foregoing executive or judicial functions in the future.

The trial court granted summary adjudication in favor of plaintiffs on the separation of powers cause of action, and issued the requested injunctive relief, enjoining the Coastal Commission from granting, denying, or conditioning permits or issuing and hearing cease and desist orders. On appeal, the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment rendered by the trial court, declaring that the statutory scheme was flawed in authorizing the Senate Rules Committee and the Speaker of the Assembly to remove a majority of the voting members of the Commission at will, because such a structure created an improper subservience on the part of the Commission to the legislative branch.

In response to the Court of Appeal's decision, and while the Coastal Commission's petition for review from that decision was pending in this court, the Legislature

30 Cal.Rptr.3d 35
enacted, and the Governor signed, an urgency measure amending the pertinent provisions of the Coastal Act. (Stats.2003, 2d Ex.Sess., ch. 1x, enacted Feb. 20, 2003, eff. May 20, 2003.) As amended, the statutory scheme continues to provide for appointment of one-third of the voting members of the Commission by the Governor, one-third by the Senate Rules Committee, and one-third by the Speaker of the Assembly, but now provides that each of the commission members appointed by the Senate Rules Committee or by the Speaker of the Assembly shall serve a four-year term and is not removable at the pleasure of such member's appointing authority. (§§ 30301, subds.(e), (f), 30312, subds.(a)(2), (b)(2).) Each member appointed by the Governor, by contrast, continues to serve a two-year term and may be removed at the pleasure of the Governor. (§ 30312, subds.(a)(1), (b)(1).)

Although both parties initially focused the bulk of their briefing on the question of the validity of the statutory scheme in effect at the time this action was initiated, as we shall explain the governing authorities establish that the resolution of this appeal actually turns on the validity of the current statutory scheme. Under the controlling precedent, it is well established that when, as here, a judgment for injunctive relief is reviewed on appeal, the validity of the injunction is governed by the law in effect at the time the appellate court renders its decision. Because the statutory provisions upon which the decisions of the trial court and the Court of Appeal were based have been modified, our determination of the validity of the judgment granting injunctive relief necessarily rests upon an assessment of the validity of the revised statutory scheme as it presently exists.

For the reasons discussed below, we conclude that the current statutory provisions governing the composition of the Coastal Commission do not violate the separation of powers clause of the California Constitution. As we shall see, although plaintiffs' challenge to the current provisions relies heavily on a number of United States Supreme Court decisions holding that, under the separation of powers doctrine embodied in the federal Constitution, Congress has no authority to appoint an executive officer (see, e.g., Buckley v. Valeo (1976) 424 U.S. 1, 135-136, 96 S.Ct. 612, 46 L.Ed.2d 659; Myers v. United States (1926) 272 U.S. 52, 117, 47 S.Ct. 21, 71 L.Ed. 160), it is clear both from the history of the California Constitution and from the judicial authorities interpreting the separation of powers clause of our state Constitution, that the California Constitution, unlike the United States Constitution, does not categorically preclude the Legislature from enacting a statutory provision authorizing the Legislature itself to appoint a member or members of an executive commission or board.

At the same time—and contrary to the argument advanced in this case by the Attorney General—we conclude that, as in other contexts in which one branch's actions potentially impinge upon the domain of a coordinate branch, the separation of powers clause of the California Constitution imposes limits upon the legislative appointment of executive officers. Consistently with past decisions that have addressed allegedly improper legislative intrusion upon the functions of the judicial branch, we conclude that the California separation of powers clause precludes the adoption of a statutory scheme authorizing the legislative appointment of an executive officer or officers whenever the statutory provisions as a whole, viewed from a realistic and practical perspective, operate to defeat or materially impair the executive branch's exercise of its constitutional functions. As we shall explain, a statute authorizing

30 Cal.Rptr.3d 36
the legislative appointment of an executive officer may transgress this constitutional limitation in at least two distinct...

To continue reading

Request your trial
55 practice notes
  • County of Los Angeles v. Water Resources, No. B184034.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 5, 2006
    ...in trying the cases and rendering judgment therein cannot here be questioned.'].)" (Marine Forests Soc. v. California Coastal Com. (2005) 36 Cal.4th 1, 54, 30 Cal. Rptr.3d 30, 113 P.3d 1062; original italics.) Here, plaintiffs are challenging the permit by attacking the regional board's aut......
  • Feduniak v. California Coastal Commission, No. H028931.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • March 27, 2007
    ...imposing conditions on development permits, including open-space easements. (See Marine Forests Soc. v. California Coastal Com'n (2005) 36 Cal.4th 1, 20, 25-26, 30 Cal.Rptr.3d 30, 113 P.3d 1062; McAllister v. County of Monterey (2007) 147 Cal.App.4th 253, 54 Cal.Rptr.3d 116; Georgia-Pacific......
  • United Auburn Indian Cmty. of the Auburn Rancheria v. Brown, C075126
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 13, 2016
    ...materially impairs the core zone of constitutional authority of another branch. (Marine Forests Society v. California Coastal Com. (2005) 36 Cal.4th 1, 45, 30 Cal.Rptr.3d 30, 113 P.3d 1062.) The core constitutional function of the Legislature is to make laws by passing statutes. (Cal. Const......
  • County of Los Angeles v. Water Resources, No. B184034.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 5, 2006
    ...in trying the cases and rendering judgment therein cannot here be questioned.'].)" (Marine Forests Soc. v. California Coastal Com. (2005) 36 Cal.4th 1, 54, 30 Cal. Rptr.3d 30, 113 P.3d 1062; original italics.) Here, plaintiffs are challenging the permit by attacking the regional board's aut......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
55 cases
  • County of Los Angeles v. Water Resources, No. B184034.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 5, 2006
    ...in trying the cases and rendering judgment therein cannot here be questioned.'].)" (Marine Forests Soc. v. California Coastal Com. (2005) 36 Cal.4th 1, 54, 30 Cal. Rptr.3d 30, 113 P.3d 1062; original italics.) Here, plaintiffs are challenging the permit by attacking the regional board's aut......
  • Feduniak v. California Coastal Commission, No. H028931.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • March 27, 2007
    ...imposing conditions on development permits, including open-space easements. (See Marine Forests Soc. v. California Coastal Com'n (2005) 36 Cal.4th 1, 20, 25-26, 30 Cal.Rptr.3d 30, 113 P.3d 1062; McAllister v. County of Monterey (2007) 147 Cal.App.4th 253, 54 Cal.Rptr.3d 116; Georgia-Pacific......
  • United Auburn Indian Cmty. of the Auburn Rancheria v. Brown, C075126
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 13, 2016
    ...materially impairs the core zone of constitutional authority of another branch. (Marine Forests Society v. California Coastal Com. (2005) 36 Cal.4th 1, 45, 30 Cal.Rptr.3d 30, 113 P.3d 1062.) The core constitutional function of the Legislature is to make laws by passing statutes. (Cal. Const......
  • County of Los Angeles v. Water Resources, No. B184034.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 5, 2006
    ...in trying the cases and rendering judgment therein cannot here be questioned.'].)" (Marine Forests Soc. v. California Coastal Com. (2005) 36 Cal.4th 1, 54, 30 Cal. Rptr.3d 30, 113 P.3d 1062; original italics.) Here, plaintiffs are challenging the permit by attacking the regional board's aut......
  • 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