Court Says Local Voters Can’t Stop Government Surveillance

Riverside, CA – A judge in Riverside ruled Friday that voters in Murrieta cannot be allowed to direct their city council to turn off controversial red light cameras.

The issue has evolved from a debate over the cameras’ appropriateness to a showdown over the source of government power.

The court acknowledge that Murrieta residents had gathered plenty of signatures—more than 4,000—to place the issue on this November’s ballot in the city. But the court held that control over traffic enforcement systems, including red light cameras, has been delegated by the Legislature only to city councils and county boards of supervisors—not the voters in those cities and counties.

Attorneys for the two women who launched the successful signature gathering drive believe the court has it backwards. “The people do not derive their power from their state or local governments. On the contrary, the government derives all of its power from the people,” noted Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute.

Attorney Pete Lepiscopo of the San Diego firm Lepiscopo & Morrow LLP is serving as an affiliate attorney of Pacific Justice Institute representing the initiative’s proponents. Lepiscopo is drafting an emergency petition to the California Supreme Court to seek a stay of Judge Ottolia’s ruling. Local elections officials have warned that they need clarity from the courts by mid-August in order to prepare a proper ballot for November.

Pacific Justice Institute is a non-profit legal organization dedicated to defending religious, parental, and other constitutional rights.
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