California Supreme Court Rejects Referendum Giving Voters More Say on Tax Increases – Bearing Arms

California Supreme Court Rejects Referendum Giving Voters More Say on Tax Increases – Bearing Arms

California voters could have had the opportunity to reject an 11% tax on firearms and ammunition set to take effect next month when they cast their votes in November, but the state Supreme Court put a stop to the possibility on Thursday by rejecting a ballot referendum that would have required voter approval for any and all tax increases that have been adopted since 2022. 

“The Supreme Court’s decision to take this dangerous initiative off the ballot avoids a host of catastrophic impacts, protecting billions of dollars for schools, access to reproductive health care, gun safety laws that keep students safe in classrooms, and paid family leave,” said Jonathan Underland, spokesperson for the campaign that opposed the initiative.

Supporters of the measure called the ruling “the greatest threat to democracy California has faced in recent memory,” noting the measure followed the rules to qualify for the ballot by securing enough signatures from the public before the deadline.

“The governor has cynically terminated Californians’ rights to engage in direct democracy despite his many claims that he is a defender of individual rights and democracy,” the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act campaign said in a news release.

For those of us who’ve been aware of Newsom’s real views on individual rights for quite awhile, his opposition to the referendum didn’t come as any surprise. But Newsom doesn’t deserve all of the blame for the untimely demise of the referendum. The California Supreme Court may have been doing his bidding, but that doesn’t absolve the court of its own responsibility. 

Removing a measure from the ballot before an election is rare, but not unprecedented in California. In 1999, the court removed one that would have cut lawmakers’ salaries and removed their authority to set boundaries for legislative districts. The court removed that measure from the ballot because it included more than one subject.

In this case, the court ruled unanimously that the ballot measure was illegal because it would revise rather than amend the state Constitution. The court said while voters have the right to impose these new rules on raising taxes, they cannot do it via a ballot initiative because it “would substantially alter our basic plan of government.”

Revising the Constitution would be more difficult, first requiring voters to approve the calling of a constitutional convention to consider the change.

Funny how the other referendum that was removed from the ballot would have also restricted the power of the legislature while giving more power to the people, isn’t it? 

Even if the state Supreme Court had allowed the referendum to appear on the ballot this fall, the 11% tax on firearms and ammunition still would have taken effect in July, but voters would have had the opportunity to repeal the tax. Now the only route to undoing the tax runs through the judicial system, and any court challenge is going to drag on for years, not months. 

While California may be a representative democracy in theory, in practice it’s a one-party authoritarian state that regularly abuses the fundamental civil rights of its residents; most prominently (but far from exclusively) the right to keep and bear arms. No doubt Gavin Newsom is delighted that his pet justices have denied voters a say in how much of their own money they can keep from the grabbing hands of the state, but today’s decision should alarm every Californian still operating under the delusion that they have a real voice in how their government operates.  

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