An 11-judge federal appeals court panel on Tuesday affirmed an earlier ruling that "initiative power belongs to people," and wound up "butting heads" with a prominent conservative attorney behind the landmark Citizens United case, Courthouse News Service is reporting.
James "The Big Bopper" Bopp was present to argue against a Chula Vista city council rule used to reject a petition sponsored by Chula Vista Citizens for Jobs and Fair Competition, the Associated Builders and Contractors of San Diego, and two individuals to place a measure on the ballot banning the use of project labor agreements, union-friendly construction contracts that require non-union contractors to agree to terms such as union-scale wages when submitting bids.
The measure eventually appeared on the ballot as Measure G in 2010, passing with nearly 56 percent of the votes cast in favor. Similar measures have passed in San Diego and several other local cities, despite a California law blocking state funds from being used on projects in any city with such a ban in place.
The groups filed a complaint against the city's "elector requirement," a rule also present in the California Elections Code, that prevents non-natural persons such as corporations and other entities from being primary proponents of a measure, as well as a rule requiring actual human proponents to place their names on petitions circulated, arguing First Amendment violations.
A testy discussion took place between Bopp and the panel before the prior ruling in favor of disclosure were upheld.
"Does a corporation have a constitutional right to be elected as a state legislator or a member of the city council?" asked Judge William Fletcher.
Bopp responded in the negative, stating that corporations are not natural people and therefore ineligible for office.
"Why is that the difference? Because essentially we have the same problem here," replied Fletcher. "These people, the proponents, are engaged in at least a quasi-legislative act. So if you're saying a corporation does not have the right to be a legislator, I'm asking why does a corporation have a right to engage in a quasi-legislative act."