The Operation of the Initiative, Referendum and Recall in Oregon

By James D. Barnett | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XX
DIRECT LEGISLATION AND THE COURTS

I
The Interpretation of Direct Legislation

POPULAR legislation, like ordinary legislation enacted by the representative assembly, is of course interpreted and applied by the courts, and the courts necessarily in some cases of crudely constructed measures "practically legislate amendments by decisions."1 And since statutes adopted by the people are in general subject, from the standpoint of law,2 to the restrictions imposed by the constitution upon ordinary legislation, there is a possibility also that the courts may find popular legislation to be unconstitutional, although so far, in actual practice, this possibility has scarcely been realized at all. There is a tendency to jealousy of any interference with the "people's laws" on the part of the courts, as on the part of the legislative assembly.3 "Of course there is going to be trouble over the enforcement of the workmen's compensation act, which has just been adopted by such an overwhelming majority by the people of the state....The next step will be to call upon the courts for a judicial decree, and by the time they get through juggling with it, it will be hard for the people to recognize the law they have so unanimously adopted. ...It is to be hoped that in case the decision as to the enforcement of the law is thrown into the courts that the legal wise-acres will have judgment enough to listen to the

____________________
1
F. V. Holman, Some Instances of Unsatisfactory Results under Initiative Amendments of the Oregon Constitution, p. 2 ( 1910).
2
Below, pp. 180-1.
3
Above, pp. 145-56.

-173-

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