While Governor Brown and a majority in the California legislature seem to tolerate the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s violations of state law, the judicial branch of California government recognizes that the Authority is failing to comply with Proposition 1A.
On April 15, 2014, the California 3rd District Court of Appeal rejected an extraordinary appeal backed by Governor Jerry Brown, Attorney General Kamala Harris, Treasurer Bill Lockyer, and the California High-Speed Rail Authority. These top state officials wanted the appeals court to suppress two decisions of a lower court so the state could borrow money for the High-Speed Train Program by selling bonds.
The Docket (Register of Actions) for California High-Speed Rail Authority et al. v. The Superior Court of Sacramento County (Case No. C076042) states the following:
The Petition for Extraordinary Writ of Mandate or Other Appropriate Writ is denied. The standard of review for a judgment on the pleadings is the same as for a judgment following sustaining of a demurrer; we look only to the face of the pleading under attack. [Citations.] … All facts alleged in the complaint are admitted for purposes of the motion and the court determines whether these facts constitute a cause of action. [Citations.] (Hughes v. Western MacArthur Co. (1987) 192 Cal.App.3d 951, 954-955.) The parties’ motions for judicial notice are denied. RAYE, P.J. (RoBu) … Case Complete.
In 2013, a Sacramento County Superior Court judge found that the California High-Speed Rail Authority failed to comply with provisions of Proposition 1A, the “Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act,” approved by 52.7% of California voters on November 5, 2008. (See links to these court decisions, below.)
Governor Brown and the California High-Speed Rail Authority wanted the court to disregard the promises the state legislature made to California voters when it placed Proposition 1A on the ballot. In their mindset, the vote of the people to authorize the state to borrow money for California High-Speed Rail overrides the burden to actually comply with the law. In fact, desperate supporters of the project are increasingly making this “democratic” argument.
But we still live in a constitutional republic, not a democracy, and the courts will not allow the California High-Speed Rail Authority to spend money in a way that violates the law. It does not matter how many politicians or political activists support the bullet train or how “important” or “innovative” this $68 billion San Francisco to Los Angeles train will be for humanity.
Ultimately, the California High-Speed Rail Authority will have to follow the law, ask voters to change the law, or shut down operations until new people are governing the state.
News Media Coverage
Appeals Court Denies Petition, Clears Way for High-Speed Rail Trial by Tim Sheehan in the Fresno Bee – April 16, 2014
Court Refuses Appeal of High-Speed Rail Project: Part 2 Prop 1A Lawsuit Will Proceed by Kathy Hamilton in www.Examiner.com – April 16, 2014
What is Governor Brown Trying to Stop?
The coalition of individuals, local governments, business organizations, and taxpayer associations (including Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability) that won this April 15, 2014 decision have already won in court as a plaintiff in a Prop 1A compliance lawsuit against the California High-Speed Rail Authority and as a defendant in a bond validation lawsuit filed by the California High-Speed Rail Authority. Read those decisions here:
November 25, 2013 California High Speed Rail Authority Bond Validation Lawsuit Ruling
High-Speed Rail Authority and High-Speed Passenger Train Finance Committee, for the State of California v. All Persons Interested in the Matter of the Validity of the Authorization and Issuance of General Obligation Bonds to be Issued Pursuant to the Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century and Certain Proceeding and Matter Related Thereto.
August 16, 2013 Tos v California High-Speed Rail Prop 1A Ruling
November 25, 2013 Tos v California High-Speed Rail Prop 1A Remedy
John Tos, Aaron Fukuda, County of Kings v. California High Speed Rail Authority, et al.
In addition, the same coalition has also won a court decision concerning the inclusion and consideration of arguments in Tos v California High-Speed Rail regarding the promised travel time requirements in Proposition 1A, such as 2 hours 40 minutes from San Francisco to Union Station in Los Angeles.
March 4, 2014 Ruling on Submitted Matter: Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings