What is the difference between initiative and referendum?

When the people initiate a piece of legislature and vote on it, that is called an initiative. When Congress refers the decision on a piece of legislation to the people for a vote, that is called a referendum.

The National Initiative proposes lawmaking by initiative.  That means that the people, and not the government, propose a law and then the people, not the government, vote on it.  The government cannot stop the people from making a law.  However, any law the people make (and the same is true for congress) must be upheld by the courts.  Just as the congress cannot pass a law that is unconstitutional, nor can the people.

The National Initiative legislation is being enacted by initiative.  Many people have questiond this as being not possible.  It is true that the Constitution does not lay out any procedures for initiatives or we would not need the National Initiative in the first place.  However, several things are clear from the Constitution:

  • The Constitution was created by the People
  • The First Amendment clearly states the People have the right to petition the government for greivances
  • Article 5 of the Constitution details how the government can ammend the Constitution, it’s important to understand that these are representatives of the People who doing the ammending
  • Article 7 details how the Constitution was originally ratified, again it was ratified by representatives of the people
  • Representatives that we send to congress are supposed to be the voice of the People
  • Using represenatitives of the People was neccessary at the time of the writing of the Constitution due to the practical limits of communication at the time.

The People are the underlying basis for our form of government.  We have the right, if not the procedures, to enact The National Initiative if we so choose.

See also:

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Initiative
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Referendum