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Thursday | August 07, 2003

California Supremes expected to rule on recall

The California Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on whether it will hear several legal challenges against the recall effort.

Still at issue is whether the ballot must include a successor election. Remember this issue? It's clearly not dead.

The Supreme Court's private conference Wednesday was in response to a variety of petitions filed last week challenging aspects of the recall. Legal experts say the one that may have the most merit would have the court declare that Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante will automatically take over if Davis is recalled.

If the court agrees, that would effectively reduce the recall to a vote between two Democrats.

The relevant clause is as follows:
SEC. 15. (a) An election to determine whether to recall an officer and, if appropriate, to elect a successor shall be called by the Governor and held not less than 60 days nor more than 80 days from the date of certification of sufficient signatures.
The key words are "if appropriate", suggesting the successor ballot is optional.

When ruling on such matters, the courts tend to look to legislative intent -- what the law's drafters intended to accomplish with the law. And on that score:

former lawmaker Barry Keene, who authored a key amendment to the recall law, said the court should prohibit successor candidates from the ballot.
Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

Update: From the "good point" department, CADem writes the following in the comments:

The "if appropriate" provision relates to the election being called, not the result. Within a certain period after sufficient valid signatures on petitions are submitted, "[a]n election to determine whether to recall an officer and, if appropriate, to elect a successor shall be called . . . ." Cal. Const., Art. II, section 15.

It would not be "appropriate" to call an election to elect a successor in the case of the Governor because the Constitution clearly states that "[t]he Lieutenant Governor shall become Governor when a vacancy occurs in the office of Governor." Id., Art. V, section 10. It really is as simple as that. The fact that the Right and the media are hyped up about having a replacement election doesn't change the Constitution.

Posted August 07, 2003 08:41 AM


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