Case Details


The Court Held That The Legislature May Not Prepare The Summary And Title For Ballot Initiatives. This Must Be Left To The Attorney General To Ensure Neutral Titles To Ballot Measures

Filing State



California Court of Appeals




Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Ass’n v. Bowen, 192 Cal. App. 4th 110 (Cal. App. 3d Dist., 2011).


The political Reform Act intended that the Attorney General have the exclusive authority to prepare the ballot summary. The Court found that the Legislature’s preparing of a title also might be in conflict with the official ballot summary of the bill on the ballot.

Case Description

California’s Political Reform Act (enacted in 1974) requires that the Attorney General prepare the official summary of the bill and the ballot label and title for ballot initiatives. The Political Reform Act can be amended in two ways: 1) to further its purposes if the amendment is passed in each house of the Legislature by a two-thirds vote; or 2) by the enactment of a statute that is then approved by the electorate. In 2008, the California legislature enacted the “Safe, Reliable, High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century,” which was to be submitted to voters as Proposition 1A for the Nov. 4, 2008 general election. As part of the Bond Act, the Legislature “specified the ballot label, title and summary to be used and precluded the Attorney General from revising the language other than to include a financial impact statement.” Prior to the election, an anti-tax group sought a writ of mandate directing the secretary of state to request an impartial ballot title and summary from the Attorney General. The trial court declined to issue the writ. The ballot initiative passed, and the plaintiffs filed an appeal.