Professor Marci Hamilton wrote on FindLaw, about her observations of the discontent that members of the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights And Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) had for Ward Connerly and his ballot initiatives against affirmative action (click on the ward connerly category in the right column for my previous posts on this subject).
Among Professor Hamilton’s comments, she observed that the fact that affirmative action was forced on the population not in the social majority, the ballot initiative process worsened tensions rather than decreased them.
This was the best example I have witnessed to date of the infirmities of direct democracy. The controversy over affirmative action is obviously a social problem that is hyper-charged with emotion and that plays into deeply-held beliefs and values, and the lawmaking process that ended over one and a half years ago had not succeeded in resolving public tensions. To the contrary, it had only reinforced those disagreements and resentments. The result was a frustrated group of citizens — calling itself By Any Means Necessary in no small part because its members felt disenfranchised by the routine means by which the process operated.
I agree with Professor Hamilton. The ballot initiative process cannot work for social policies like affirmative action where the people outside the social majority do not have the power to prevent the passage of an initiative which is not in the social minority’s interest. I wrote the following in a previous post.
In general, ballot initiatives should be limited to non-controversial items with broad general applicability, for example, approving library bonds, and similar items. Issues that potentially deprive vulnerable citizens of human rights must go to the state legislature.
The American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI) initiative campaign in several states is unfair to people who are not members of the dominant social group (see my related posts here). The actions sought in ACRI’s ballot initiative has a profound negative impact on a vulnerable portion of the total population.