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Anti-tax group sues over Citizens United measure

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- An anti-tax group sued state officials Tuesday in an effort to block an advisory ballot measure that seeks to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United campaign finance decision.

The lawsuit by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association comes a week after Gov. Jerry Brown let SB1272 become law without his signature.

The bill by Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, puts a nonbinding measure on the November ballot asking voters if they want a federal constitutional amendment to restrict corporate campaign giving. The 2010 ruling allowed unlimited corporate spending in elections.

The lawsuit filed in the Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento argues that such advisory measures are not a proper use of the ballot.

“This is simply an effort to put a public opinion poll on the ballot in front of California voters,” said Jon Coupal, the association's president. “The election process is to enact laws, not polls.”

The bill passed over Republicans' opposition. Even Brown, a Democrat, criticized the bill as having “no legal effect whatsoever,” while saying he disagrees with the high court's decision. The only way to overturn the decision is for Congress to convene a constitutional convention, Brown said, a step that the Legislature called for in a separate joint resolution.

The lawsuit names the Legislature and Secretary of State Debra Bowen, the state's chief elections official, whose office did not immediately comment.

“At this point, it's probably best viewed as a civics lesson,” said Will Shuck, a spokesman for Assembly Democrats. “The legislative branch passed it, the executive branch allowed it to go on the ballot and now we are likely to hear from the judicial branch.”

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