The Operation of the Initiative, Referendum and Recall in Oregon

By James D. Barnett | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXIV
STATE DIRECT LEGISLATION AND FEDERAL MATTERS

"A NATIONAL initiative and a national referendum is the logical and necessary sequel of a state initiative and a state referendum."1

But whatever the desirability or practicability of "compounding the American people into one common mass" for the purpose of direct legislation, there is no reason why voters of the state may not be vested with more power over federal legislation than they exercise at present. Before the direct election of United States senators by the voters of the states was provided for by the amendment of the federal constitution, direct election was accomplished in Oregon, and later in other states, by a system under which candidates for the legislature pledged themselves to vote for the people's choice of senators, and, when elected, kept that pledge. The same principle is contained in the presidential primary law. This principle might well be applied to advance popular control over the federal constitution and statutes. Candidates for congress and the legislative assembly might thus be practically required to pledge themselves to further or to oppose federal legislation, statutory or constitutional, in accordance with the wishes of the voters of the state as expressed on the particular questions submitted at the election.2

____________________
1
Oregonian, July 3, 1911, p. 6, col. 2. "We are very much interested in seeing this spread [of the initiative and referendum] to other states, because we do not get the full benefit of it until we have it nationally." W. S. U'Ren, reported in Chicago City Club Bulletin, vol. 2, p. 478 ( 1909).
2
See below, p. 193.

-187-

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