Dear JAILers -- Good
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
"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
"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
"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
The Initiative & Referendum Institute is
1825 I Street, NW, Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20006
Phone: (202) 429-5539 / Fax: (202)
PS - 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