Initiative Process Opening Up, Benefiting National J.A.I.L.
- Dear JAILers -- Good News:The I.RI. (Initiative & Referendum Institute) has written to J.A.I.L. via snail mail telling us about their victories in the area of initiatives. While certain of this information has already been placed out on the internet, we deemed the following refinement and enlargement to be of value to our JAILers. (It should be observed that the IRI is now taking note of the J.A.I.L. Initiative cause.) The letter is dated December 7, 2001, and states in part, "I just received word that we've won on all the major issues in our federal lawsuit against the draconian I&R regulations enacted by a vindictive Idaho Legislature."Since legislators assaulted the process with new regulations in 1997, not a single initiative had been able to qualify for the ballot in Idaho. One regulation, requiring a distribution by county, meant -- as the judge pointed out -- that 90 percent of registered voters could sign a petition and the petition still might fail to qualify. The judge overturned that distribution requirement along with virtually the entire statute."When legislators try to lock out citizens, the Initiative & Referendum Institute is there -- funding and coordinating litigation to unshackle the process. In addition to Idaho, we've been involved in successful litigation in Colorado, Mississippi, and Maine. Currently, the Institute remains engaged in lawsuits in California, North Dakota, Oregon, Washington State and Washington D.C."IRI's current challenge to the U.S. Postal Service's ban on circulating petitions outside post offices is our most important legal case. Until June 1998, Postal Service policy had allowed petitioners to gather signatures for initiative on postal property, so long as petitioners were not disruptive to postal business. But the new regulations completely ban all petitioning."This prohibition violates the First Amendment, which guarantees not only free speech but also the right to petition our government for a redress of grievances. The prohibition drastically increases the difficulty of getting initiatives on the ballot -- especially in rural states, where post offices are the best and sometimes the only place to gather signatures."The Institute organized a group of politically diverse litigants and recruited a top-notch law firm to challenge the behemoth Postal Service. The case -- Initiative & Referendum Institute, et al v. U.S. Postal Service -- will create an important precedent affecting the future of I&R. The U.S. Supreme Court may well resolve the case. ...."I'm also excited to see the movement for initiative and referendum growing. Paul Jacob, a Senior Fellow at U.S. Term Limits, has started a new organization to expand the initiative process to additional states. The group is called Citizens in Charge and their first target is a bill in Minnesota that would establish the citizen initiative process in the state."The bill passed the House in a previous session, but was defeated in the Senate. If passed by the legislature next year, the measure would go to the ballot in November of 2002."Citizens in Charge can lobby legislatures and advocate in ways that the Institute, as a tax-deductible educational foundation, simply cannot. But we can take advantage of their work and no doubt be of assistance to them and all concerned by providing an educational framework for the public and legislators considering the adoption of I&R."Paul will also be working with the Institute. With Paul's help, the Institute has more manpower strength than ever before. ....Best regards, M. Dane Waters, President"The bottom line is, while there is a push to close down the initiative process throughout the country, there is also a viable counter-push to forbid such closures and to open up non-initiative states to initiatives. This spells very good news for JAIL4Judges and for the future freedom of our country that will come as the result of our effort. Remember -- JAIL4Judges is the ONLY answer!-Ron Branson-The Initiative & Referendum Institute is located at1825 I Street, NW, Suite 400Washington, D.C. 20006Phone: (202) 429-5539 / Fax: (202) 986-3001PS - I would highly advocate writing Mr. Waters and expressing your views and thankfulness for what he is doing, and telling him about JAIL4Judges. Mr. Waters email is mdanewaters@....- Ron Branson -Commander-In-ChiefNational J.A.I.L.