Proposition 59: Corporations. Political Spending. Federal Constitutional Protections.
Shall California’s elected officials use their authority to propose and ratify an amendment to the federal Constitution overturning the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission?
There are two main forms of political campaign contributions: Money given directly to candidates, committees that support candidates and political parties; and “Independent expenditures,” money given in support of or in opposition to a candidate without coordination with the candidate’s campaign.
Before 2010, federal law limited the independent expenditures that corporations and labor unions could make in federal elections. In 2010, however; the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that independent expenditures by corporations and labor unions are protected as "free speech" under the First Amendment, thus there is now no limitation or regulation on how much money can be given by these entities as independent expenditures. This ruling applies to federal, state and local governments.
In order to amend the Constitution, Congress may propose amendments or call a constitutional convention for the purpose of proposing amendments. In order for a proposed amendment to take effect, it must be ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states. The California Legislature previously has asked that Congress propose an amendment to reverse the effects of Citizens United, or call a constitutional convention for the same purpose.
Prop. 59 asks voters whether California’s elected officials should use their authority to propose and ratify an amendment or amendments to the U.S. Constitution that would reverse the effects of Citizens United and related court decisions, allowing government to impose more limits on political campaign contributions and spending, and make it clear the rights in the Constitution are for natural persons only.
This is an advisory measure only, has no legal effect, and does not require any particular action by Congress or the California Legislature.
Prop. 59 would have no direct fiscal effect on state and local governments.