In most states you can’t bring a law suit to challenge the constitutionality of a law until the law has affected you personally (e.g. you have been arrested, fined. etc.). As a result, numerous laws that many believe are unconstitutional can remain on the books for decades until someone is unlucky enough to fall victim to them.California is different. In California any taxpayer can bring a lawsuit to stop the implementation of a law that she believes is unconstitutional provided that she is a resident taxpayer of the area affected and public funds will be spent to implement the challenged law.
This sort of broad taxpayer standing provides an important bulwark against government overreach. For example, Proposition 209 amended the California Constitution to forbid racial preferences (i.e. affirmative action) in public employment and public education. Yet, without taxpayer standing, a law expressly granting racial preferences in California public schools would go unchallenged until a student (who could prove that she had been discriminated against) had the time, money, and wherewithal to challenge the law in court.
Under California’s taxpayer standing laws that burden is removed. Any taxpayer who wishes to challenge such unconstitutional discrimination can do so on the ground that implementing an unconstitutional law wastes taxpayer resources. Indeed, some of the most important cases enforcing the anti discrimination provisions of Proposition 209 were brought by Ward Connerly, a private citizen, under California’s taxpayer standing laws.
Similarly, Kassouni law is currently representing Rosa Koire and Michael Shaw, among others, in a lawsuit to overturn numerous unconstitutional land use restrictions imposed by the recently adopted Plan Bay Area. If fully implemented, Plan Bay Area could have devastating impacts on the economy and on the rights of property owners across the state to develop their properties. Tax payer standing is an important mechanism to halt this wasteful and burdensome program, without the public having to wait until someone actually loses their property and has the money and time available to sue. By that point, thousands would be affected by the Plan. California’s taxpayer standing laws provide Ms. Koire, Mr. Shaw and others an opportunity to stop this unconstitutional program before anyone gets hurt. In doing so, California’s taxpayer standing laws play an important role in reining in government overreach and upholding the rule of law.
If you would like your own legal matter reviewed by the Sacramento appeal lawyers at Kassouni Law on the merits of taxpayer standing, please give the appeals team a call at 877-770-7379. We’ll be happy to assess your matter.