Dove Brochure Scheme
Published November 6, 2003. Lansing
State Journal. Editorial
It was only a matter of time before a deplorable Michigan Supreme Court ruling gave lawmakers license to nullify the democratic process.
It happened Tuesday. Legislators backing a bill to legalize the hunting of mourning doves attached a $350,000 expenditure for brochures on the bird.
The state's high court ruled in 2001 that any law that included a spending appropriation could not be overturned by a voter referendum.
This renders a law "voter-proof." That House members employed this court ruling is beyond shameful. What they are saying is that they are loath to entrust Michigan voters with decision-making powers. This is an arrogant rebuke to state voters.
The Senate now takes up the bill, and there are indications it won't act any time soon. Good.
But the "voter-proof" issue continues to haunt. Because the majority of the state's high court seems content to undermine our right to vote, the alternative is a constitutional amendment to regain the lost ground.
We would warmly endorse such an amendment to the Michigan Constitution.
How did we get here? In a 4-3 vote in 2001, justices ruled that voters could not stop a law from taking effect because the Legislature tacked on a spending provision. The law was to liberalize the issuance of concealed weapons permits.
True, the constitution's framers correctly understood that state government could be paralyzed by voter initiative; voters could basically stop funding of basic state services. The constitution addresses that, so that every legislative spending act won't be thwarted by referendum.
Yet, it is wrong to conclude the constitution's framers wished to obstruct most voter referenda, but rather protect those appropriation acts essential to running the government.
Does anyone actually believe the constitution's authors had dove-hunting brochures in mind as an essential government service?
The court's illogical interpretation leads to absurd "voter-proof" bills such as the one passed Tuesday. It will take a change in our state constitution to undo damage.
The Lansing State Journal
- Songbird Protection Coalition