Tahoe legislators blast term limit ruling | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tahoe legislators blast term limit ruling

Patrick McCartney

California’s elected officials who represent Lake Tahoe denounced an appeals court ruling that overturned voter-approved term limits, calling the decision another example of an activist court thwarting the will of the public.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that voter approval of Proposition 140 in 1990 is invalid because the initiative did not explicitly state that the term limits barred a politician from ever seeking the office again.

The proposition would have limited assembly members to three two-year terms and state senators to two four-year terms.

About two dozen state legislators were scheduled to be “termed out” next year.

California Secretary of State Bill Jones indicated he will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and overrule the appeal court’s decision.

California Sen. Tim Leslie and Assemblyman Thomas “Rico” Oller wasted no time in criticizing the ruling and calling for it to be reversed.

“The Ninth Circuit is a disgrace,” said Oller, R-San Andreas, who was elected to a first term in the Assembly last November. “Last term, the United States Supreme Court overturned 96 percent of the decisions it reviewed from the Ninth Circuit. We can only hope that the Supreme Court will once again … rein in the activist Ninth Circuit judges and reverse their liberal, anti-democratic opinions.”

The 9th circuit court has overturned several state initiatives that were later upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, including Proposition 209, which outlawed affirmative action in California.

Oller was elected to the Assembly district that was previously represented by David Knowles, who stepped down after because of the term-limit law. Knowles, now the deputy chief of the California Insurance Commission, referred to his longstanding call for an elected board of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency in saying whether he would consider running for office again.

“Only when the TRPA board is an elected office, will I consider running for office again,” Knowles said.

Leslie, R-Tahoe City, also criticized the appeal court’s ruling as anti-democratic.

“The court ruling is another example of a court through judicial activism thwarting the will of the voters,” said Leslie, who added that he supports term limits. Leslie was re-elected to a second term last year, and would not be affected by term limits until 2000.

Leslie said the ruling seemed designed to minimize the chance the U.S. Supreme Court will reverse it.

“It really seems to be a political ruling,” Leslie said. “They’ve taken the one area of law they could that has no national implications. The decision questions the intelligence of our voters.”

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