Recall, Referendum, and Initiative Amendment

(Amendment 29) - notes


Recall, Referendum, and Initiative Amendment




By this Amendment to our Consitution we the people of the United States affirm our right to recall governmental officers and/or their appointees; to repeal legislation enacted by our representatives, via referenda; or on our own initiative to propose, perfect, enact and amend public policy, laws, charters, and constitutions within any of the various jurisdictions which we constitute within the United States or any of the united states, and shall hereinafter refer to this as the Recall, Referendum, and Initiative Amendment.


John Francis Lee


Homage to Mike Gravel


Section 1.

This entire amendment is a rework of Mike Gravel's ni4d. The idea and impetus behind both this effort and the original ni4d are Mike's, and he deserves our thanks for his pioneering efforts in this regard. None of this would have come about without Mike's insights and efforts, he is the father of the ni4d and of the r2ia as well, although he may not agree with the changes made to his original proposal by the r2ia.

This section defines what is meant by the people of the United States of America : we are those Americans of voting age, whether or not we have “registered to vote”. This is very important because the only fail-safe mechanism to the truly sweeping powers this amendment asserts on our behalf is that a true majority of us are required to recall an elected official, to strike down a law passed against the majority of our wishes by our “representative” government, or to enact legislation proposed by ourselves. No one need worry that a mere “plurality” of interested voters will pull a fast one, enacting legislation binding us all. It is not possible that a majority of us can pass anything without all of us having been involved in the debate leading up to such an outcome.

Since a true majority will be required here to exercise these powers no distinction is made between ordinary laws of the sort delegated to our representative legislators and amendments to the Constitution itself. Who can deny the will of an outright majority of us?

Section 2.

The point is explicitly made here that these powers cannot be restricted in any jurisdiction, although this amendment will specify conditions obtaining at the federal level only.

Section 3.

The challenge is to distribute responsibility for the oversight of direct democracy far enough so that it can operate effectively without a hierarchy. Recreating Yet Another Layer of Representative Government would defeat us before we began. Voter registration is already devolved to the county level and that level seems well suited to providing the local nexus for direct democracy.

Section 4.

One strike and you're out. This goes for presidents, vice-presidents, senators, representatives, supreme court justices on down. In order to stir an absolute majority of your constitutents to oust you, you must have erred egregiously, and so, irretrievably as far as your career in “public service” is concerned. There will be no more zombies; no more living dead thrown out of office, then pardoned, and then reappointed by cronies further on down the line.

Section 5.

One hundred twenty days is a stringent requirement for the nullification of laws and treaties. Similarly the people will brook no dilatory nonsense from the politcal or military classes in the matter of life and death in warfare.

Section 6.

The checks and balances so very necessary on the actions of those supposed to be representing the people are unnecessary when actions are undertaken directly by us, the people ourselves.

The role of the Supreme Court as interpreter and enforcer of the Constitution is not yet written in our Constitution, so this clause takes the opportunity to remedy that shortcoming as well.

Section 7.

Recalls and Initiatives are alike in that they effect an outcome that would otherwise not obtain, and so a majority aye vote is the only outcome of interest.

A referendum is unlike a recall or an initiative in that the only change a referendum can make is negative, to undo something otherwise already done. A majority nay vote is the only one of interest.

The idea with regard to the census is that there may be more voters voting for a recall or initiative, or against a referred decision, than half those enumerated by the most recent census, or yet a greater number voting against the recall or initiave or in favor of a referendum and they must in either case carry the day. This is an end case wisely foreseen by Mike Gravel.

Section 8.

The Campaign finance rules for direct democracy.

Section 9.

The actual mechanism of recall, referenda, and initiatives are left unspecified in this amendment and that specification will constitute the first initiatives we pass, legislating directly (see the link to the Act below).

Initiative mechanisms presently enacted at the state level can be affected by lawyers working within the courts either before or after an election and we need to nip that in the bud here. Another end case wisely foreseen by Mike Gravel.

If you have comments or suggestions, email me at jfmxl at sdf dot org []