Cases and Materials on Direct Democracy in California

Author(s): Chris Micheli

Edition: 1

Copyright: 2021

Pages: 566


Details: Print Product |

When I first contemplated a casebook focused on California’s legislative branch of government, I considered a section dedicated to the forms of direct democracy found in the state. However, as I explored the topic further, and I read dozens of cases, I realized that a casebook could be focused just on California’s treatment of the three forms of direct democracy. As a result, I compiled the materials that are contained in this casebook.

I also researched books, law review articles and other sources for information on California’s forms of direct democracy. After examining these materials, especially court decisions in California, I recognized that there is not any specific law school casebook for the largest state in the union and one of the most prevalent users of direct democracy in the nation. That really set-in motion the work that resulted in this casebook.

This casebook examines the initiative, referendum and recall. In each of the three sections of the casebook, we begin with an overview of the relevant law (both constitutional and statutory), followed by an explanation of the process, and then look at data provided by the California Secretary of State. Each section then delves into the key court decisions.

As the reader might imagine, there are a myriad of court decisions in California addressing legal issues that have arisen over the more than one hundred years these forms of direct democracy have existed in this state. The court decisions used in this casebook were chosen because they help explain the relevant law and provide a helpful analysis of the legal issues the court faced. After each decision, as well as with several sections of the explanatory materials, there are notes and questions provided to stimulate further thought and discussion of key legal issues raised.


Political Power Inherent in the People

Overview of the Law

Intent of the Electorate
Amendment v. Revision of the Constitution
Single Subject Rule and the Initiative
Overview of the Process
Roles of the Attorney General and the Legislative Analyst
Standard Features of Initiatives
Standing to Defend Validity
Amending or Revising the California Constitution
Role of the Legislative Counsel in Initiatives
California’s Ballot Initiative Transparency Act
Recent Data from the Secretary of State
Key Court Decision
Power Is Absolut

Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights v. Garamend
Power Reserved to the People
Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association v. Padilla
Explanation of People’s Powers
Widders v. Furchtenicht
Not Within the Initiative Power
American Federation of Labor v. Eu
Initiative Power Versus Legislature’s Power
Independent Energy Producers Assn. v. McPherson
Initiative Proponents Defined
Hardie v. Fong Eu
Word Limit for Title and Summary
Holmes v. Jones
Language of Ballot Measures
People v. Scott
Attorney General Providing Title and Summary
Lungren v. Superior Court
Purpose of the Title and Summary
Yes on 25, Citizens for an On-Time Budget v. Superior Court
Preparation of Fiscal Impact
People v. Cordova
Competing Measures
Southwest Voter Registration Education Project v. Shelley
Constitutional Provision
National Paint & Coatings Association v. State of California
Initiative Different than Referendum Power
Jahr v. Casebeer
Challenging Initiative’s Constitutionality
Pala Band of Mission Indians v. Board of Supervisors
Pre-election Challenges to Initiatives
Senate of the State of California v. Jones
Costa v. Superior Court

Other Branches of Government Cannot Invalidate Initiatives
Perry v. Brown
Evaluating Measure’s Constitutionality
California Family Bioethics Council v. California Institute of Regenerative Medicine
Same Constitutional Analysis as Used with Statutes
Yoshioka v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County
Interpreting Initiative Measures
Mills v. County of Trinity
Single Subject Rule and the Initiative
People v. Kisling
Raven v. Deukmejian
Amador Valley Joint Union High School Dist. v. State Board of Equalization

Common Purpose
Manduley v. Superior Court
Not Complying with the Elections Code
Zaremberg v. Superior Court
Measures Presumed to Be Valid
Professional Engineers in California Government v. Kempton
Interpreting Initiatives
People v. Canty
Amending Ballot Measures
Brown v. Superior Court
Initiatives and Tax Law Changes
Carlson v. Cory

Overview of the Law
Overview of the Process

What Is Subject to Referendum?
Voting on a Referendum
Recent Data from the Secretary of State
Key Court Decisions
Source of the Electorate’s Power

Voters for Responsible Retirement v. Board of Supervisors
Limitation on Power
Santa Clara County Local Transportation Authority v. Guardino
Scope of Referendum Power
Empire Waste Management v. Town of Windsor
City of Morgan Hill v. Bushey
Limitation of Referendum Power
San Bruno Committee for Economic Justice v. City of San Bruno
Municipal Matters
Yesson v. San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority
Application to Reapportionment Statutes
Assembly of the State of California v. Deukmejian
Courts May Devise Procedures
Rubalcava v. Martinez
Legislature Cannot Reduce Power
Ortiz v. Madera County Board of Supervisors
Legislative versus Administrative Acts
Lincoln Property Company No. 41, Inc. v. Law

Overview of the Law
Overview of the Process

Voting on a Recall Petition
Recent Data from the Secretary of State
Key Court Decisions
Individualized Nature of Recall Petitions

Capo for Better Representation v. Kelley
Ministerial Function of Recall Order
Imperial v. Castruita
“Yes” Versus “No” Vote at Recall Election
Partnoy v. Shelley
Recall Expenses Reimbursement
Hickman v. State of California

Table of Cases
Index of Topics
Appendix – California Constitution, Article II


Chris Micheli

Chris Micheli is a founding partner of the Sacramento governmental relations and advocacy firm of Aprea & Micheli, Inc. As a legislative advocate, Micheli frequently testifies before policy and fiscal committees of the California Legislature, as well as a number of administrative agencies, departments, boards, and commissions. He regularly drafts legislative and regulatory language and is considered a leading authority on state tax law developments, California's knife laws, and the state legislative process. The Wall Street Journal called him "one of the top three business tax lobbyists in the state" and the Los Angeles Times described him as an "elite lobbyist."

Over the last twenty years, he has published hundreds of articles and editorials in professional journals, newspapers, and trade magazines, whose diverse subjects range from tax incentives to transportation funding. He wrote a bi-monthly column on civil justice reform for five years for The Daily Recorder, Sacramento's daily legal newspaper. He has served on the editorial advisory board for CCH's State Income Tax Alert, a nationwide publication, as well as State Income Tax Monitor, another national newsletter, and Sacramento Lawyer, a monthly legal journal.

Micheli has been an attorney of record in several key cases, having argued before the Supreme Court of California (just two years out of law school), as well as the Court of Appeal several times. He has filed more than fifteen amicus curiae briefs in California courts and is admitted to practice law before all of the state and federal courts in the state.

He has published six peer-reviewed law review articles and is the co-editor and co-author of the book “A Practitioner’s Guide to Lobbying and Advocacy in California,” as well as the author of “Understanding the California Legislative Process,” both published in 2020 by Kendall-Hunt Publishing Company. His most recently-published books released in 2021 are “Introduction to California Government” and “An Introduction to Legislative Drafting in California.” He is also the co-author of “Guide to Executive Branch Agency Rulemaking.” He also published two law school casebooks entitled “The California Legislature and Its Legislative Process – Cases and Materials” and “Cases and Materials on Direct Democracy in California.”

He is a graduate of the University of California, Davis with a B.A. in Political Science – Public Service and the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law with a J.D. degree. He currently serves as an Adjunct Professor of Law at McGeorge where he co-teaches the course Lawmaking in California, as well as a Lecturer in Law at the University of California, Davis, King Hall School of Law where he co-teaches the course Legislative Drafting. He resides in Sacramento, California with his wife, Liza, two daughters, Morgan and Francesca, and son, Vincenzo.


Chris, certainly destined to influence the development and direction of case law, and legal and civic education in California and beyond. Congratulations! Your energy, productivity, and contribution to the body of knowledge remain inspirational.
Robert Guyer | President
The Lobby School

Chris Micheli brings his years of experience as an attorney, lobbyist and adjunct professor at The University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law to his latest book, Cases and Materials on Direct Democracy in California.  His book serves as an invaluable resource for those seeking to better understand the history and current usage of California’s uniquely complex initiative, referendum, and recall processes.  Professor Micheli’s book provides insight into the role of direct democracy in California politics and policy through the lens of judicial interpretation and analysis, while also shedding light on real-world considerations related to the exercise of political power “reserved to the people” by the California Constitution.
Erin O’Neal Muilenburg | Director, Capital Lawyering Concentration
McGeorge School of Law


Related ISBN's: 9781792466786, 9781792474620




ISBN 9781792466786

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