Calif. top justice slams state referendum process
Calif. — The chief justice of the California Supreme Court criticized the
state's reliance on the referendum process Saturday, saying it has
"rendered our state government dysfunctional."
widespread use of referendums to change state laws and constitutions hampers
legislators, gives special interests too much power and burdens the judicial
branch, Chief Justice Ronald M. George said in a speech delivered in Cambridge,
court over which I preside frequently is called upon to resolve legal challenges
to voter initiatives," George said. "Needless to say, we incur the
displeasure of the voting public when, in the course of performing our
constitutional duties as judges, we are compelled to invalidate such a
justice's comments were released early but officials with George later confirmed
he followed the prepared remarks in delivering the speech.
said the ballot box system places California's lawmakers in a "fiscal
straitjacket" that prevents them from effectively solving the state's
financial crisis. The result, George said, is growing debt.
constraints upon elected officials — when combined with a lack of political
will on the part of some to curb spending and on the part of others to raise
taxes — often make a third alternative, borrowing, the most attractive option
at least until the bankers say 'no,'" George said.
speech to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences was titled "The Perils
of Direct Democracy: The California Experience."
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