California Republican Party Files Two Simultaneous Lawsuits Against  Unconstitutional Attempt to Suppress Voter Turnout and Violation of First Amendment

Senate Bill 27, Signed by Governor Gavin Newsom, Directly Violates California Constitutional Provision Regarding Placement of Candidates on Election Ballots and US Constitution Guarantee of Free Association

SACRAMENTO – The California Republican Party (CRP) and Jessica Millan Patterson, CRP Chairwoman, today jointly filed a writ with the California Supreme Court asking the Court to declare Senate Bill 27 (SB 27), recently signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, unconstitutional.   Simultaneously, the CRP, Republican National Committee and several California voters filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of the US District Court in Sacramento challenging the enactment of SB 27 on federal constitutional grounds, including the CRP’s 1stamendment right to free association and free speech. 

“The California Constitution clearly provides specific provisions for placement of Presidential candidates on the California ballot.  By signing this clearly unconstitutional bill into law, Governor Newsom has wasted time and taxpayer money on an issue that will surely be thrown out by the California Supreme Court,” said Jessica Millan Patterson, Chairwoman of the California Republican Party.  “We have also filed a lawsuit in federal court to protect our right to free speech – via our ability to vote – and free association.  This new law is a violation of our rights on so many different levels we are confident it will be thrown out before Election Day.”

“The California and US Constitutions are crystal clear on these issues,” continued Patterson. “Governor Newsom should have followed the lead of his predecessor, Governor Brown, and vetoed this proposal. Instead, precious time and resources must be spent in state and federal court to rule on this crystal clear issue.” 

“Historically, voter turnout is driven by the top of the ticket races – and by attempting to remove those top ticket candidates, Governor Newsom and the Democratic legislature who adopted this measure are hoping to keep Republicans home,” continued Patterson.  “Their goal is to ensure Democrat candidates qualify in California’s ‘top two’ open primary system – and keep more Republicans off the general election ballot in November.  It’s unconscionable to use these political tricks and underhanded tactics to influence elections.” 

“We have very real problems that need to be addressed in California such as the skyrocketing cost of living, a failing education system, and a homeless epidemic.  Instead, Governor Newsom and the Democrat majority in California are wasting time and resources on political tricks to disenfranchise California voters,” concluded Patterson. 


Background – Patterson v. Padilla

Cal Const. Art. II, Sec 5 provides:

(c) The Legislature shall provide for partisan elections for presidential candidates, and political party and party central committees, including an open presidential primary whereby the candidates on the ballot are those found by the Secretary of State to be recognized candidates throughout the nation or throughout California for the office of President of the United States, and those whose names are placed on the ballot by petition, but excluding any candidate who has withdrawn by filing an affidavit of noncandidacy.

The California Constitution provision above was adopted after political maneuvering in the 1960s led Presidential candidates to be held off the ballot, in lieu of the California governor to ensure the California governor wielded significant political power over delegate selection.  For example, neither John F Kennedy nor Hubert Humphrey appeared on the California primary ballot in 1960, only Governor Pat Brown appeared on the ballot. 

In 1971, via SCA 3 and California Proposition 4, the state enacted the Presidential primary provision now known as California Constitution Article II, Section 5.


Background – Melendez v. Newsom

A complaint was filed today with the US District Court for the Eastern District of California in Sacramento on behalf of three California voters, the Republican National Committee and the California Republican Party against Governor Gavin Newsom and Secretary of State Alex Padilla.   This lawsuit focuses on SB 27’s violations of the First Amendment’s freedom of speech and right to free association, as well as SB 27’s violation of the 14th amendment’s guarantee of equal protection.