Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

California Revolution

The rejection of Propositions 1A-1E by voters illustrates the basic problem with the California Constitution: the initiative system is broken. Of the more than 500 amendments and revisions approved by voters over the past century, the 2/3 requirement for the budget is the most harmful--but there are hundreds of little disasters that add up to make the bloated California Constitution one of the very longest in the world.

It is time to re-write the California constitution wholesale. It is time for a third constitutional convention here in California (1849 and 1879 were the previous two). Check out Repair California for some interesting information on the process and its history.

Under Article XVIII of the current constitution, the Legislature may vote by 2/3 majority to place a referendum on the ballot to create a convention to revise the state constitution. Afterward, the voters would need to approve the revision by simple majority for it to take effect. Unfortunately the legislature cannot achieve a 2/3 vote on anything substantive--the best they can do is churn out rat-eaten compromises like Props. 1A-1F.

There is another possibility: Repair California thinks a voter initiative could give the voters the right to call for a convention directly, and that we could then do so on the same ballot... But that seems iffy to me.

So I say we first pressure the legislature to pass a "clean" bill providing for a third constitutional convention. Failing that, we can Repair California's initiative process. And failing that... Is there a legal mechanism for a revolution--or is that the contradiction in terms it sounds like? Is there any precedent for a state creating a new constitution by extra-legal or "revolutionary" means? (Is the creation of West Virginia an example?) How could we do this?


The Law Talking Guy said...

I am quite certain the Republicans will oppose any convention because (1) they are afraid that it would make it easier to raise taxes and (2) they just say "no" to everything in this state. Without a couple GOP votes, you can't get 2/3. And the Dems aren't exactly an organizeed bunch either in this state.

The Law Talking Guy said...

I disagree with Repair California. Initiatives are limited to amendments that are not "revisions" of the constitution. It is really hard to imagine that an amendment calling for a constitutional convention without a 2/3 vote of the legislature is not a "revision" since its clear intent is to permit a wholesale revision of the document.