As case law suggested, the substantial compliance doctrine wasn't enough to save the defective Prop. 77 because the difference were textual. Judge Ohanesian keeps her eye on the policy implications of too much judicial opinion interfering with initiative language:
There is no good reason to put the courts in the position of having to decide what is good enough for qualifying an initiative measure for the ballot when actual compliance is easily attainable. The initiative process is too important to so broadly apply the doctrine of substantial compliance . . . . To rule otherwise would run the risk of the court inappropriately interjecting itself into the "political thicket." The court finds that the purposes of the constitutional and statutory requirements at issue would be frustrated if the court were to apply the substantial compliance doctrine to excuse the clear defects in this situation.The Judge also notes that proponents can recirculate the proposal for the June 2006 ballot (though, and please correct me if I am - and I surely could be - wrong, isn't there still time to re-qualify the matter for November?).
Plain language also saves the day here as the Judge scolds the parties for pained linguistic arguments:
All parties have been very adept in their arguments at mincing words to their barest of letters. [Proponent's] argument that "copy" does not necessarily mean "exact copy" is one example of mincing and then stretching the meaning of words beyond reason.I can envision Jack Pitney somewhere right now smiling in approval at both the counselors' attempts and the judge's smack-down of those attempts (said smack-down perhaps giving him reason to forgive her passive voice and use of "the fact that").
Rick Hasen highlights some of the same text and gets more deeply into the question of what gets reviewed on appeal (de novo, etc) with links to SoCal Law Blog, among others.
It seems a sound decision to me - as much as I believe reform is needed. Again, though, as I've said already, maybe this is a unexected, but beneficial, opportunity for the proponents. If there is time to qualify measures for this fall - go fix those glitches, take out the mid-decade provision, and get those professional gatherers a-gathering.
Show ain't over yet, guys. Hell, does the circus ever end here?
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Following Up on the Redistricting Prop's Legal Snag
Great, Now We Can All Get Back To The Really Important Stuff
Add This One For Good Measure (The MALDEF Proposal)
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Can't Hardly Wait
This Should Do Wonders For The Negotiation Process
A Primer On 3 Current Proposals: Part 2
More On Redistricting Reforms Potential Benefits
It's For The Best, Boys
Hey, Let's Have A Hearing!
Breaking News: Judge tosses redistricting measure off ballot