[EM] Initiatives

Wynott at aol.com Wynott at aol.com
Fri Nov 6 15:09:44 PST 1998

In a message dated 11/6/98 12:07:43 PM Pacific Standard Time, cef at geodesic.com

<<    To rephrase the question, does any court have the power to rule an
 >unconstitutional BEFORE it is placed on the ballot and passed by a majority?
 >    This is about local issues not US.
 No. It has to be law or its moot. Courts never take any legislation that
 isn't there yet no matter who wrote it. And someone must bring the matter
 to the court. >>

Actually, it depends on the state.  

Some states have constitutions which limit initiatives to certain topics and
means.  Initiatives that clearly does not fit into those topics and means can
be taken to court by their opponents and knocked off the ballot by the courts.

For example, in Massachusetts, an initiative cannot appropriate funds for a
specific use.  Therefore, any initiative that is submitted which calls for a
specific appropriation of funds will get knocked off the ballot by the courts.
(Technically in MA, the state Attorney General has the power to knock the
question off the ballot or keep it on, though he/she often asks for an
"Advisory Opinion" from the state's top court before making a decision.  A
lot, then, depends on the AG's politics.)

BTW, this element of the MA constitution is why the Public Financing
initiative that just passed overwhelmingly there may never really go into
effect, since it couldn't require any funds to be allocated for the public
financing of campaigns.  The all-powerful Speaker of the House is a strong
opponent of public financing, so the legislature may never appropriate any
money for the Clean Campaign Fund.

-- K.D. Weinert

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list