Castro Valley, CA asked in Civil Rights, Election Law, Gov & Administrative Law and Government Contracts for California

Q: I don't believe there is a process for federal referendum or initiatives?

For instance where the initiative process enables citizens to bypass their state legislature by placing proposed statutes and, in some states, constitutional amendments on the ballot. - If you started at the state level could the citizens create legislation to have a federal referendum/initiative process? While I don't believe the is, would there be a way at least academically if not practically? Looking to think creatively, could an initiative or referendum be passed at the state level, which could enable citizens to get a federal referendum or initiative process in place - is there any level at which the state process can affect/affect the federal government. (I realize my question is sort of a shotgun approach - but trying to see if there are even directions that from state law to make changes federally?)

1 Lawyer Answer
Louis George Fazzi
Louis George Fazzi
  • Civil Rights Lawyer
  • Jess Ranch, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: It doesn’t work that way. There are two separate systems: the federal system, and the state system. There is no federal analog to an initiative process. It is not possible to begin an initiative process in the state and then have it transfer over to the federal level. The United States Constitution does not allow for the initiative process. All laws at the federal level must be passed by Congress, then signed into law by the President of the United States. The initiative process was created in California under the California Constitution. In order to do that on the federal level, there would have to be an amendment to the United States Constitution, first passed by the Congress, and then ratified by the legislatures of 3/4 of the states of the union. This is a deliberately cumbersome and time consuming process.

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