Interpretation of Constitutional Provisions
Unlike the situation in which the Legislature drafts and then enacts a law, a constitutional provision approved by the voters has not been drafted by those voters (or at least has not been drafted by a statistically significant percentage of them).
Thus in interpreting a provision of the Constitution, we look to the ordinary and common meaning of the words used. " 'It must be held that the voters judged of the amendment they were adopting by the meaning apparent on its face according to the general use of the words employed. Such is the rule where it does not appear that the words were used in a technical sense. (Miller v. Dunn (1887) 72 Cal. 462 14 Pac. 27, 1 Am. St. Rep. 67.)
"Where a word having a technical as well as a popular meaning is used in the Constitution, the courts will accord to it its popular signification, unless the very nature of the subject indicates, or the context suggests, that it is used in its technical sense."
The words used in a constitution "must be taken in the ordinary and common acceptation, because they are presumed to have been so understood by the framers and by the people who adopted it." (Miller v. Dunn, supra; City of Pasadena v. Railroad Commission of California (1920) 183 Cal. 526 192 Pac. 25, 10 A.L.R. 1425; San Pedro etc. R. R. Co. v. Hamilton (1911) 161 Cal. 610 119 Pac. 1073, 37 L. R. A. (N. S.) 686; Weill v. Kenfield (1880) 54 Cal. 111; Sprague v. Norway (1866) 31 Cal. 173.)' " ( Kaiser v. Hopkins (1936) 6 Cal. 2d 537, 538-539 58 P.2d 1278.)