Thursday, July 24, 2003

Recalling recalls

Excellent cautionary points by my former colleague at Reason Nick Gillespie and my buddy Steve Hayward (guest-blogging at The Corner) on some of the unforeseen consequences of the Gray Davis recall campaign. Nick notes that the good government types are likely to use campaign "reform" laws to harass political activists; Steve suggests if the recall succeeds, it

is likely to lead to the de facto transformation of California into something like a parliamentary democracy. In the future, whenever a governor's popularity swoons (Pete Wilson's polls were very bad in 1992 and 1993), the liberal special interest groups are likely to try the recall route themselves; they have more money and organization than the right in California.

Meantime, in Nevada, my humble prediction is that attempts to recall public officials here will fail. Organizers of the recalls have targeted all six justices who voted to kinda, sorta suspend the state constitution. Had they selected only one -- say, Chief Justice Deborah Agosti, who authored the majority opinion, and is up for re-election next year -- organizers might succeed; at least, gathering the requisite number of signatures to put a recall on the ballot would send a message to the justices and to the lawmakers who contemplated increasing taxes by an unconstitutional simple majority. A quick, laser-like effort is needed here, rather than an unfocused, populist temper tantrum. Any ham-handed attempt to toss out the entire court, as it were, will likely go nowhere.

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