Thursday, June 5, 2008

CT - The Debate Begins On Initiative And Referendum

The Connecticut Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society held a debate in the Old Judiciary Room at the State Capitol this past Tuesday, about the topic of Initiative and Referendum, because there will be a question on the upcoming November election ballot which will allow for our state to convene a Constitutional Convention to make changes to our State Constitution.

That question will be:
"Shall there be a Constitutional Convention to amend or revise the Constitution of the State?"

The debate about Initiative and Referendum is available online.
(You can view the 1 hour 28 minute debate on CT-N's website link - wmv file).

Should Connecticut have a Constitutional Convention to change the CT Constitution to allow for Initiative and Referendum? Right now, Connecticut's Constitution doesn't provide for a way to put questions and measures on a statewide ballot for an up-or-down vote. Critics like retired Superior Court Judge,Robert Satter say that we don't need Initiative and Referendum because we have a legislature that makes laws through a lengthy and diligent process that includes public hearings and the test of going through two bodies (the House and the Senate) as well as a needing a signature from the Governor. Initiative and referendum, he believes, allows laws to be made solely based on public opinion and well moneyed media campaigns to sway that public opinion.

Proponents of Initiative and Referendum like President of the Federation of CT Taxpayers Organizations, Susan Kniep, and CCSU Professor, Atty John Woodcock III, say that Initiative and Referendum gives the people more of a voice and that all too often elected officials do not adequately represent their constituents in important matters; instead they cater to special interests or they do not address the problems at all. They also claimed that working people cannot attend public hearings at the Capitol and have become disengaged and disenfranchised from the law making process. We can see that by the lack of candidates running for office and how so many seats go uncontested.

There were many other fine points made during the debate. One thing is certain, CT voters should do all they can to research this issue because the mainstream media is barely reporting on it, and the topic is not being discussed at all.

This is a very important question that will be on the November ballot and we all should think about the possibility of changing our State Constitution and allowing Initiative and Referendum. If you have never read our State Constitution - then you can find it online here and should take the time to read it.

The Republican American ran a good article about the event.

The President of the Federation of CT Taxpayers Organizations, Susan Kniep presented a wonderful speech about why she believes Initiative and Referendum is necessary (when it is posted on her website I will provide a link). FCTO also has the State's report about Constitutional Conventions on their website, as well as articles about Initiative and Referendum.

There is of course a website for the Initiative and Referendum Institute

" With Initiative and Referendum, there will be no need for further Constitutional Conventions. People will be able to revise the Constitution when necessary. "The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government." - George Washington
“I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society, but the people themselves. And if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion.” - Thomas Jefferson: