Proposition 13, the landmark property tax limitation passed by California voters in 1978, has survived another legal assault.
The 2nd District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles on Tuesday denied, without comment, an appeal of a lower court decision rejecting a challenge to the measure from Charles Young, the former chancellor of the UCLA campus.
Although Proposition 13 was upheld by the state Supreme Court shortly after its passage, Young contended that by requiring a two-thirds legislative vote for imposing new taxes, the measure constituited a "revision" of the state constitution that could not be enacted by voters.
While voter-approved initiatives can amend the constitution, revisions -- a more fundamental form of change -- must go through a constitutional convention or a constitutional revision commission.
Young, represented by retired federal Judge William Norris, contended that by requring a two-thirds vote for state tax increases, Proposition 13, went beyond an amendment in that it fundamentally changed the balance of fiscal power in the Legislature because "legislators opposing a tax increase are given the functional equivalent of more votes than those legislators who favor such proposals."
The appellate court refused to entertain the case, however, and it's uncertain whether Young will try again with the state Supreme Court. Norris has said he and Young were inspired to launch the indirect challenge to Proposition 13 by the wording of a state Supreme Court decision dealing with Proposition 8, the equally controversial measure that barred same-sex marriages.
Proposition 8 was challenged on similar grounds -- that it was a constitutional revision rather than an amendment -- and while the court upheld its status as a valid amendment, some language in the ruling indicated to Young and Norris that a challenge to Proposition 13 might succeed.
Proposition 8 was later invalidated by the federal courts.
Jon Coupal, who heads the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which is named after Proposition 13's chief sponsor, hailed Tuesday's decision.