Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Conservative initiative-backers bring ballot language to court

I'm beginning to think that those on the right are confused about the meaning of "fair" and "balanced." To wit: the language state Attorney General, Mike McGrath, is using to describe ballot initiatives 97 and 98. You know ballot initiative 97. That's the infamous "Stop Overspending" bill whose idiot older stepbrother, Colorado's TABOR bill, crippled that state's education system. The proponents of initiative 97 -- no doubt a cabal of Norquist lackeys -- object to language in the ballot stating that Montana's Constitution already requires a balanced budget. Apparently 97's backers realize that their bill will appear, at best, superfluous if Montana voters are educated about their existing legislation. Ballot intiative 98 is in a way creepier, because it attacks the very foundation of check and balances in most of American political structures. According to the Gazette's story,
CI-98 would allow citizens to attempt to recall judges for almost any reason. Currently, judges and other public officials can be recalled only for specific reasons, such as misconduct or "lack of fitness."
For those in need of a review of 6th-grade civics (apparently the entire GOP), the reason the judiciary is given life-time appointments largely free from unreasonable recall is that judges are supposed to work unfettered from popular movements and politics, offering at least a philosophical check against the populism associated with legislative deliberation and a definite check against the power of the executive. Judges are supposed to interpret the law, not watch their backs against political machinations. But right-wingers want judges answerable to politics. That's because they want their radical programs to sail through the judiciary, even if it violates law. Like, say, wiretapping without a warrant. So what language do intiative 98 backers object to? Again, they dislike that Montana voters be informed about the existing law.
On CI-98, supporters said McGrath improperly used the descriptive language to tell what the current law allows on recalling judges, rather than more fully describing the contents of CI-98. McGrath's statement recounts current law and then says CI-98 amends the constitution "to provide for recall by petition of state court justices or judges for any reason." CI-98 would allow citizens to petition to recall judges for almost any reason, and requires them to get a certain number of signatures on the petition to qualify the recall for the ballot. "The statements (by McGrath) give voters the false impression that no parameters exist with respect to submitting a recall petition," the suit said. "Recall is not just 'any reason' but rather any reason for cause as determined by voters."
Hm. So...if McGrath adds those six words -- "for cause as determined by voters"-- they'd be happy? Heck, add the language! Why not? As a former English comp. teacher, I hereby attest that those six words really don't clarify anything...but it if shuts up the wingnuts, go ahead, add 'em! What disturbs me about these petitions is that the backers of these radical right-wing initiatives prefer that Montanans remain ignorant about the current content of the law. It's as if they believe if Montanans know what laws already existed they'd realize they already have reasonable, more moderate, more practical legislation on the books that address the same issues that 97&8ers are saying need addressing. Again, it shows that the right wing needs to keep people ignorant on issues in order to steamroll us all under their ideology.
I brought this up earlier with Left In The West. This is a big deal. I want to form a group to oppose it.
You mean ballot initiative 98? Maybe we could start a group called "Citizens for the Constitution" or something and sue the h*ll out of the GOP.
Now THAT is a great idea! Let's do it.
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