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The measure to split CA into 3 states qualified for the Nov ballot - but is it legal?

A postcard featuring California: the Golden State.
A postcard featuring California: the Golden State.
By Ed Bierman via flickr / Creative Commons

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On Monday, an environmental group filed a lawsuit to block Proposition 9 from the November ballot, claiming that it’s too sweeping to be a ballot initiative.

This is the measure also known as the Cal 3 initiative, which would start the process of splitting California into three separate states. The California Supreme Court has ruled that voters can’t approve a measure that “revises” the state constitution, only one that “amends” it. In their suit, the Planning and Conservation League says this measure would be a revision.

What legal qualifications does a measure have to meet to be a valid ballot initiative? How common is it for there to be a legal challenge to a prop before it has been voted on? And does Cal 3 hold legal water?


Darien Shanske, professor of law at UC Davis, where his areas of expertise include state and local government law

Michael Salerno, clinical professor emeritus of law at UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco