California Term Limit Law Struck Down
SAN FRANCISCO (AllPolitics, Oct. 7) -- A federal appeals court today struck down California's law setting legislative term limits for its state representatives.
In a 2-1 decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the law restricted the voters' right to support the candidate of their choice.
The court objected to the original 1990 initiative because it failed to inform the public that after an elected official served the maximum term, that person was banned from the office for a lifetime. That information was also left out of the ballot pamphlet sent to voters.
Judges Stephen Reinhardt and Betty Fletcher ruled to throw out the law. Reinhardt wrote in the majority opinion, "The Constitution requires us to invalidate an initiative if it fails to provide adequate notice to the voters that it would severely burden the people's fundamental rights.
"In matters this important, the state simply must tell its citizens what they are voting on," Reinhardt continued.
The lone dissenter, Judge Joseph Sneed, argued that voters were adequately notified of the lifetime ban by opponents' argument located in the voter pamphlet.
The appeals court said its ruling had no bearing on the question of whether a state could impose lifetime term limits. The ruling will take effect in 21 days unless the U.S. Supreme Court intervenes.
The initiative, known as Proposition 140, was approved by 52 percent of the voters. Under the law, California Assembly members were limited to three two-year terms while state senators were limited to two four-year terms.
The court's decision allows current lawmakers, who would have been ineligible for another term under the law, to run again next year.
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