The Operation of the Initiative, Referendum and Recall in Oregon

By James D. Barnett | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIV
CHECKS OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY UPON DIRECT LEGISLATION

I
The Regulation of the Initiative and Referendum

"IF the legislature can restrict, limit or hamper the right of referendum which the people have reserved to themselves in the constitution, it practically annuls the amendment. Barrier after barrier could be placed around the steps necessary to invoke the referendum, until there would be so many barriers that they could not be surmounted, and the power of the referendum would be practically dead."1 It is the fear of some such consequence that has brought the people generally to suspect the efforts made in the legislative assembly, session after session, to "tamper" with the system, and members of the assembly, whether friends or enemies of the system, have accordingly become very chary of such movements, which consequently, whatever their real merits, have almost always been defeated. This cautious attitude appears in the governor's message in 1911. "If imperfections [in the Oregon System] exist, these in time may be remedied or adjusted. But I hold that if changes must come, they should come at the hands of the friends of the law, and I say now that during my term of office I will zealously guard the integrity of these laws of the people and will combat any attempt to injure, infringe, or subvert them. The people of Oregon, at different times and in no uncertain tones, have declared for these laws, and no men or no hostile influence should

____________________
1
Webster, quoted in Oregon Journal, July 2, 1907, p. 4, col. 1.

-131-

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