Last week the California Supreme Court removed from the November ballot the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act on the grounds that it was an impermissible “revision” of the state constitution beyond the power of voters.

In his amicus brief for the case, former governor Jerry Brown contended that back in 1978 the court contended that Proposition 13 “was both modest and does not change our basic governmental plan. The same cannot be said of the Measure, which turns our basic governmental plan inside out.” That calls for a look back to a time when some Californians, primarily the elderly, were literally being taxed out of their homes.

Proposition 13, the People’s Initiative to Limit Property Taxation, did not cut taxes. The measure only limited property tax increases to the inflation rate or two percent, whichever was less. The measure also required a two-thirds vote of the legislature to increase non-property taxes. Gov. Brown attacked the measure in apocalyptic terms but Proposition 13 passed by a margin of 64.79 to 35.21 percent. Brown then acted as though he wrote the measure and proclaimed himself a “born-again tax-cutter,” which was never true.

Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association contends that the recent court decision would would likely have prevented Proposition 13 from passing. That calls for a look at other measures passed by the people through the initiative process.

In the late 1990s, Spanish-only instruction, disguised as bilingual classes, was harming the educational and employment prospects of immigrant children. The 1998 Proposition 227 required public school instruction to be conducted in English. The measure passed 61.28 to 38.72 percent, and the vote should not have been necessary.

On November 4, 1986, California voters passed Proposition 63, the Official Language of California Initiative. This measure directed the state legislature to “preserve the role of English as the state’s common language” and refrain from “passing laws which diminish or ignore the role of English as the state’s common language.” The people agreed and passed the measure by a margin of 73.25 to 26.75, a huge landslide.

At the time, long after the Bakke decision, California’s state universities still rejected qualified students based on their race. In 1996, the California Civil Rights Initiative, Proposition 209 on the November ballot, barred racial and ethnic preferences in state education, employment and contracting. Californians passed it by a margin of 54.55 to 45.45. State educrats fought it from the start and have now built a huge “diversity” establishment that, strictly speaking, violates state law.

In 2020, state officials ponied up Proposition 16, the Repeal Proposition 209 Affirmative Action Amendment. The people voted 57.23 to 42.77 to keep Proposition 209, affirming admission by merit, not race.

Proposition 63 is still on the books, but as Orange County Register columnist Gordon Dillow observed, “state legislators and public officials acted as if Prop. 63 never existed.” Educrats sought waivers against Proposition 227 but that was nothing compared to the ongoing campaign against Proposition 13.

The measure mandated no government spending, created no government agencies, and required no new government hires, yet politicians claim the measure “gutted” government revenues. Jerry Brown contends that it “radically changed the nature of California government,” similar to his bogus claim about the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act.

The state Supreme Court took it off the ballot, Jon Coupal contends, “to prevent voters from passing it” and “it’s the clear intent of the state government to block voters from limiting tax increases at all.” That is surely true, and there’s another dynamic in play.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s choice for chief justice was Rose Bird, 40 years old, without judicial experience, and with a tendency to elevate her own views above the law. On November 4, 1986, California voters booted Bird by a margin of 67 to 33 percent. The people also ousted justices Cruz Reynoso and Joseph Grodin, both Jerry Brown appointees.

Remember that smackdown the next time a justice shows up on the ballot. Remember also June 2024 when, to reverse the sixties’ slogan, the state’s high court took power from the people.