Category Archives: voter initiatives

“The Common Good and Voter Polarization”

New draft on SSRN by John G. Matsusaka and Chad Kendall:

Do voters see democracy entirely as a game of self-interest in which one person’s gain is another’s loss, or do they also view it as a search for the common good, as some democracy theorists have long conjectured? Existing empirical research that assumes entirely private interests cannot answer this question, by design. We develop an empirical model in which voters derive utility from both common-good and private considerations, and show formally how to disentangle the two preference components. We estimate the model on California ballot propositions from 1986 to 2020, and find that 46 to 87 percent of voters place significant weight on the common-good aspects of proposals. Common-good concerns mitigate the effects of voter polarization, which we find substantially increased over out study period – particularly in the last six years.

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DNC to Spend $25 Million on Voter Outreach and Litigation

NYT:

Facing an onslaught of state-level ballot restrictions and gridlock in Congress over voting rights legislation, the White House detailed a multimillion-dollar plan on Thursday to register voters and fight voter suppression.

In a speech at Howard University, Vice President Kamala Harris said the Democratic National Committee would invest $25 million in voter outreach and litigation.

… The $25 million investment is in addition to $20 million that Jaime R. Harrison, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, pledged would be spent before the 2022 midterm elections.

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Initiatives after Hollingsworth v. Perry

There’s quite a bit of coverage of Perry‘s holding with respect to the initiative process.  A smattering:

In California:
LA Times: Prop. 8 ruling raises fears about effects on other initiatives
Orange County Register (editorial): Prop. 8 ruling blow to direct democracy
Sacramento Bee: Supreme Court gay marriage ruling raises questions for California initiative process
SF Chronicle: Some supporters of Prop. 8 ruling leery of impact on initiatives
      and here: Did Jerry Brown, Kamala Harris “refuse to do their jobs”?
San Jose Mercury-News: Marriage ruling raises ballot measure questions
Long Beach Press-Telegram: Attorney: California ballot measure system may be weaker after Prop. 8 ruling

and beyond:
Governing: What the Supreme Court’s Prop. 8 Ruling Means for Voter-Approved Laws
Kevin Drum in Mother Jones: The Big Problem With the Supreme Court’s Prop. 8 Decision
Allysia Finley in the Wall St. Journal: Democrats’ Prop. 8 Veto
Scott Shackford in Reason: How Concerned Should Ballot Initiative Lovers Be About the Prop. 8 Punt?
Joshua Spivak in The Week: How the Supreme Court Crippled Direct Democracy
Tamara Tabo in Above the Law: What’s Horrible About Hollingsworth Is Horrible for Us All  (yes, Above the Law)
Paul Waldman in The American Prospect: Why the Prop. 8 Decision Should Make Liberals Uneasy

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BREAKING NEWS: DOMA struck down, Prop 8 case dismissed on standing

DOMA has been struck down as unconstitutional. Prop 8 case from California dismissed on standing grounds (initiative proponents have no cognizable injury distinct from the general population). I haven’t yet read thoroughly, but SCOTUSblog reports that neither finds a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

DOMA decision is here; Prop 8 is here.

Both 5-4, very different majorities. DOMA is Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan, Sotomayor; Prop 8 is Roberts, Scalia, Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan.

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Sounds Like There Will Be No Emergency SCOTUS Action in the Texas Voter ID Case

Earlier today I wrote about how Texas, which had indicated an intent to appeal, could seek emergency relief from the Supreme Court to put its ID law into effect for November’s elections.

But now comes this from AP: “State Attorney General Greg Abbott said he will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, “where we are confident we will prevail.” He also told the Associated Press late Thursday that there is now definitely not enough time to salvage the law for the November election.”

So we are just waiting on Pa. and South Carolina as states whose ID laws are on hold (and Wisconsin, if the Supreme Court takes up AG van Hollen’s invitation to look at this case again—very unlikely).

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“Democrats propose measures to rein in California initiative process”

The LA Times offers this front-page report.

Back in 2000, I wrote this piece for the Columbia Law Review discussing the complex relationship of political parties to the initiative process, especially in California.  More recently, Chris Elmendorf and Ethan Leib have written this interesting article on the topic, which is forthcoming in the California Law Review.

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