Saturday, September 23, 2017
California Supreme Court expands taxpayers’ right to sue
By Bob Egelko
Monday, June 5, 2017
The court unanimously overturned several decades of lower-court decisions that allowed only property taxpayers to sue for alleged waste of public funds.
The state Supreme Court broadened the right of California taxpayers Monday to file suits challenging local or state government policies that don’t affect them directly — harming the environment, for example, or conducting secret surveillance — ruling that such suits are not limited to property owners.
The court unanimously overturned several decades of lower-court decisions that allowed only property taxpayers to sue for alleged waste of public funds, and said anyone who pays taxes in a city or county has legal standing to sue. But the justices stopped short of saying which types of levies, such as sales taxes, are paid and collected locally. The court said the issue should be addressed first by lawmakers or lower courts.
“It’s a limited win, but it’s a win nevertheless for people who want to hold local governments accountable when they act in violation of law,” said Steven Mayer, a lawyer for advocacy groups supporting a renter’s attempt to sue the city of San Rafael and Marin County over police practices. Among the groups supporting the 2013 suit by Cherrity Weatherford were the American Civil Liberties Union and AARP.