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Warning: “Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories.” (Thomas Jefferson)

Out of the People, an Initiatives Amendment
         Out of Many, One

Preamble

The purpose of this Initiatives Amendment is to provide the People with on-going power to correct the Peoples’ Government when it becomes misrepresentative, ineffective, or corrupt. It authorizes some direct democracy by the People using nationwide initiatives based on the Athenian initiative system. However, in all other regards, our Representative Democracy government will continue to operate without change.

Initiatives Amendment

This must define the Initiative process in sufficient detail to deny Congress the ability to subvert it. Therefore, it must be precise, complete, and relatively long.

References incorporate two documents (Constitution Orders and Assembly Rules) because they are needed to bring the Amendment into full force and effect, but may later be repealed when it is in full force and effect.

This is currently a draft document subject to changes suggested by the People, during adoption by State Legislatures, and for proposal at a Limited Article V Convention of the States.

This preface, article titles and numbers, and explanations are not part of the Amendment.

1.1: People Reserve Initiatives as their First Power

Amendment X of the United States Constitution shall be, and hereby is, amended by appending the following sentence: “The People Reserve Initiatives as their first Power.”

Explanation of People Reserve Initiatives as their First Power

The People have never previously claimed any U.S Constitutional Power under Amendment X (1791). However, since about 1900 in about half of the States, they have claimed and obtained that the People Reserve Initiatives to remedy failures and corruption in State Governments. At that time, late 19th-century American businessmen (the Robber Barons) used unscrupulous methods to get rich and use their wealth to gain Oligarchic powers.

Today, the Federal Oligarchic takeover starting in about 1980; its consequent systemic corruption, dysfunction, and waste in Congress; the election campaign control by dark money; and the consequent virtual meaninglessness of their Federal votes; the People have no choice but to exert their only remaining effective Federal Power – that of Initiative. The appropriate point to start this Initiatives Amendment is by modifying Amendment X – Powers of the States and People – to claim that “The People Reserve Initiatives as their first Power.”

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1.2: Legislative Powers in the People by Initiative Powers

Article I, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution concerning all legislative powers shall be, and hereby is, amended by inserting the following phrase at the end of the sentence: “, and in the People through their Initiative Powers”

Explanation of Legislative Powers in the People by Initiative Powers

Article I, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution describes the design of the legislative branch of US Government — the Congress.  Important ideas include the separation of powers between branches of government (checks and balances), the election of Senators and Representatives, the process by which laws are made, and the powers that Congress has. Article I, Section 1 currently defines the allocation of “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”. This must be revised to include the People’s new right in the People of Initiative Powers that  includes Power Parallel to Congress.

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1.3: Initiatives Qualifying Assembly (IQA)

This Constitutional Amendment establishes the Initiatives Qualifying Assembly (IQA) of the United States to manage the initiative process and authorizes nationwide United States Citizens’ Initiatives.

The Assembly shall consist of a randomly selected cross-section of the People, function independently, self-perpetuating, protected from tampering, responsible to the People alone, and funded by the U.S. Government as an inalienable entitlement of the People.

 

Explanation of Initiatives Qualifying Assembly (IQA)

The Initiatives Qualifying Assembly (IQA) is an independent self-perpetuating organization of the People, a Grand Jury, a constitutional fixture in its own right.

These first three clauses are potentially sufficient if Congress were to complete the details. However, since Congress is the source of most problems, the People cannot allow Congress any opportunity to furnish the details. Consequently, this Amendment is lengthy and incorporates two references.

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2.1: Propose Initiatives

U.S. citizen groups and organizations may create and propose Initiatives, but shall not abuse this right. All citizens and organizations signing or sponsoring a proposed Initiative shall declare any benefit they may receive by proposing and by passage of the Initiative. They shall communicate a Proposed Initiative to the Initiatives Qualifying Assembly by its publication. Initiative signers must have simple proof of identity at least equivalent to Federal Election voters.

Explanation of Propose Initiatives

The Amendment taps the creativity of the People and their organizations to propose Initiatives. To keep order, the Initiatives Qualifying Assembly has the power to control abuse. It takes advantage of the Federal Election for concurrent use to minimize cost and maximize convenience for the voters.

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2.2: Initiative Power Parallel to Congress

Direct democracy by Initiatives is authorized and granted to the People as an additional and parallel power to those granted to the U.S. Congress, and each House thereof, and to those powers that Congress has assumed, will assume, and could assume. Direct Initiatives shall have the power to do and undo all manner of things that Congress has done, does, and will do.

Direct Initiative power shall include, but is not limited to: legislation, proposing amendments, calling conventions of the States to propose amendments, impeachment, implied powers including all powers under Article 1 Section 8 Clause 18, rules, policies, procedures, precedents and customs, appointments, remuneration, perquisites, and ethics. The sole limitation on the power of Initiatives shall be the exclusion of impeachment trials by the Senate under Article I Section 3 Clause 6.

 

Explanation of Initiative Power Parallel to Congress

The People must have equal scope and final authority over Congress to enforce actions to correct deficiencies, otherwise Congress can and will evade the People’s wishes. Moreover, no one can anticipate where future problems may lay. Implied power, e.g., using the “basket clause,” has required and enabled Congress to assume many things not in the Constitution. Consequently, Initiatives must be able to address any congressional matters without exception.

For clarity, to avoid dispute with Congress, and to minimize need for Supreme Court interpretation, a list shows examples of specific matters Initiatives can address. By placing a sole limitation on the power of Initiative, the Supreme Court will be more likely bound to interpret that other powers are not limited.

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2.3: Initiatives Emulate Congress Voting the Peoples’ Will

The People voting on Direct Initiatives emulate congress voting the Peoples will. Thus, a majority Initiative vote of the People in a congressional district shall be the exact equal of the vote by the district’s member of the House of Representatives. A majority initiative vote of the People in a State shall be the equal of the votes by its Senators.

To pass a legislative Initiative shall require a double majority defined as majority votes in a majority of the congressional districts and in a majority of the States. To propose a Constitutional Amendment to the States for ratification shall require a double super-majority defined as a majority vote in a two-thirds majority of the congressional Districts and in a two-thirds majority of the States.

Matters decided in Congress by committee or other subset thereof shall be as if a majority of members of that House had passed them. An Initiative addressing a House of Representatives’ Committee issue shall require a majority vote in a majority of the congressional districts to pass. An Initiative addressing a Senate Committee issue shall require a majority vote in a majority of the states to pass. Joint committee issues shall require a double majority Initiative vote to pass.

In addition, any Initiative must always pass with at least a simple majority of the nationwide vote.

Explanation of Initiatives Emulate Congress Voting the Peoples’ Will

The voting majorities for initiatives follow the same majorities as those that the Constitution defined and Congress currently uses.

Statistical anomalies can occur in elections. Therefore, as a precaution, the Amendment also requires a simple nationwide majority to pass an Initiative.

Nationwide Initiatives will treat voting by any Committee or subset of Congress as if a majority vote of one or both Houses had passed the issue.

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2.4: Initiatives Passed by Electorates’ Vote

Congress shall not change, veto, or overrule electorate vote for Direct Initiatives except as permitted in the Direct Initiative. Nor shall a Direct Initiative shall not be subject to any Presidential veto.  A Direct Initiative shall take effect when passed by the Electorate vote and immediately after certification of the vote.

Congress does not have the power of Referendum and shall not attempt to create it except by a Constitutional Amendment. A later Direct Initiative, or a nationwide Referendum with the same voting criteria as the Direct Initiative, may change or overrule an earlier Direct Initiative or Referendum.

Explanation of Initiatives Passed by Electorates’ Vote

The People cannot permit the President to veto Initiatives or the Congress to overrule Initiatives; otherwise the government could easily frustrate the purposes of this Amendment. Congress shall not attempt to create referendum power under Article I, Section 8, Clause 18.
Though Congress does not currently have a referendum power, it may do so in the future. The Amendment gives initiatives and referenda equal precedence, the most recent prevailing.

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2.5: Constitutional Amendments Proposed by Initiative

Article V of the U.S. Constitution shall be, and hereby is, amended by adding a second clause consisting of the following two sentences: “The People shall have the power by Direct Initiatives to propose U.S. constitutional amendments to the States when passed by a double supermajority of the People’s vote. Upon certification of a passing vote, the proposed constitutional amendment shall be as if Congress had deemed it necessary, proposed it, defined the mode of ratification, and submitted it to the several States for ratification by their legislatures or by their People.”

Explanation of Constitutional Amendments Proposed by Initiative

The People’s fundamental right to alter their government becomes more explicit by the power to propose constitutional amendments. This requires a revision of Article V, adding the People as a third proposal method, in addition to the Congress and the States. It is best introduced as a second clause rather than alter the first clause, which is already complex and upon which many judicial opinions rely. Proposal by this process will be a more severe test than the other two methods.

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2.6: Initiatives Article V Ratification of Constitutional Amendment

Initiatives Article V Ratification of a Constitutional Amendment shall be, and hereby is, amended by adding a third clause consisting of the following two sentences: “The Assembly may place the Constitutional Amendment on the Ballot in each State as a Direct Constitutional Initiative and a majority vote by the People in that State shall ratify or reject it. Moreover, if 70 percent or more of the Assembly passed the proposed Constitutional Amendment, the Assembly may require that the Proposal and the Ratification of the Amendment shall be placed on the Proposal ballot for concurrent vote.”

Explanation of Initiatives Article V Ratification of Constitutional Amendment

The 27th Amendment was submitted by Congress to the states for ratification in 1789 and ratified in 1992—202 years later. Long delays are contrary to the purpose of this Amendment—delays are counterproductive. Instead, Moreover, many State Governments are becoming increasingly affected by Plutocratic corruption. To remedy this, the People of that State may make the decision, their votes emulating their elected State legislature’s vote.

Normally, there is a delay of several years between Proposal and the Ratification of a Constitutional Amendment. Such delays can be avoided by a 70 percent approval vote by the Assembly.

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2.7: Indirect Initiatives to Congress

The Assembly shall submit Indirect Initiatives to Congress. Congress may change or overrule them. Within one year after submittal, Congress shall bring it to a conclusive vote in both Houses subject to Presidential veto or refer it back to the IQA. This shall not limit the People’s right at any time to propose a similar or related Direct Initiative process nor the IQA’s right to place them on the ballot as Candidate Initiatives.

Explanation of Indirect Initiatives to Congress

States seldom use their indirect initiatives process. The Amendment’s indirect initiatives process is easy to use. It will be efficient and effective to encourage Congress to take up matters without going to the time and cost of a nationwide vote.

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2.8: Advisory Initiatives Guidance

Advisory Initiatives shall be non-binding polls of the nationwide Electorate.

 

Explanation of Advisory Initiatives Guidance

Advisory (i.e., consultative) initiatives seek the People’s guidance. For example, an advisory initiative may find acceptable common ground for nationwide compromise on complex issues or define the scope of a future initiative to avoid unnecessary discord.

 

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3.1: Assembly Members are the People’s Sworn Deputies

Assembly Members shall be the Peoples deputies obligated to act in the best interests for all U.S. citizens and their Constitutional rights. Assembly Members shall vote their own un-coerced independent opinion after open-minded deliberation. They shall not participate in voting for any group affiliation, vote trading, sale, or favor. Any attempts to influence or organize Assembly Members by political or any other association internal or external to the IQA shall be tampering. Any promise made by a Member to or for a person or organization that constrains or subverts their freedom to vote independently shall not be binding.

Members shall be equals and treated equally. The IQA shall pay Members for their services.

 

 

Explanation of Assembly Members are the People’s Sworn Deputies

Assembly Members’ independence is important for the IQA to function effectively as the People’s sworn deputies. It is necessary therefore, that special interest of Members should not form association within the IQA and that the offense will be punishable under law, otherwise substantial attempts at such influence are predictable.

Compensation is required to make mandatory participation more palatable.

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3.2: Assembly Members Randomly Selected

The IQA shall specify how and by what method its Assembly Members are to be randomly selected. It may vary its Membership criteria between all Citizens and a willing subset of Citizens, and between Citizens entitled to vote and Citizens registered to vote, by Direct Initiatives passed by a double supermajority vote.

Once selected, an IQA Member shall serve a mandatory duty of citizenship to represent Citizens who think as they do. Members shall serve as private not public persons for a term specified by the IQA. IQA service shall have priority over all other citizen’s duties and work including military, clerical, political, professional, parenting, secret, or business services.

Failure to serve and fulfill a Member’s obligations shall be punishable unless excused for excessive hardship by a randomly selected Federal Judge in Court in accordance with guidelines specified by the IQA. No Citizen may be called upon to serve twice.

Explanation of Assembly Members Randomly Selected

 

The IQA Rules state that a simple random sample from all Citizens entitled to vote must initially generate the list of Members. The executive branch will probably choose from the Social Security master list—removing those not eligible to serve from the selection. If a better database of Citizens becomes available, e.g., from Homeland Security, then that may be used.

Initially, all those selected must serve because it appears that permitting Members to decline for less than excessive hardship could permit large dedicated special interests to insist that its members never decline to serve and thereby to influence the IQA. If exceptions were made, the views in the IQA would not accurately represent all Citizens. Though service may sometimes be an imposition, it is a reasonable duty of citizenship.

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3.3: Assembly Management Authority

The Assembly Management Authority shall be the sole authority to manage the initiative proposal process, to select and qualify all U.S. Candidate Initiatives, to approve initiative wording, and to place them or order their placement on nationwide ballots. The IQA shall obtain whatever advice and assistance it deems necessary. The IQA shall have the right to subpoena testimony and enforce that right through Federal Courts.
The IQA shall ensure that Candidate Initiatives are worthy and comprehensible and shall not overburden the Electorate. The IQA shall specify the requirements for citizen groups and organizations that may propose Initiatives, shall define abuse of the initiative process, and shall control the ease of proposing Initiatives.

Explanation of Assembly Management Authority

State initiatives have indicated the number of Initiatives on which an electorate can reasonably vote. There must be a single authority to control the number of proposed Initiatives, prevent abuse, and to select the most important, otherwise the process will be chaotic.
The IQA must have powers to demand information similar to Congress to perform its check and balance function.

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3.4: Assembly Include Congressional Opinions with Initiatives Ballots

The Assembly shall include Congressional opinions with all Initiatives Ballots, but may edit them if they are excessively long compared with other Ballot information content or difficult for Voters to comprehend.

Explanation of Assembly Include Congressional Opinions with Initiatives Ballots

The importance of Congressional input for balanced voter decisions is self-evident.

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3.5: Assembly Self-Governing Rules

The Assembly shall be self-governing in accordance with its Rules. It shall have the obligation and right to sustain itself. It shall obtain approval to change its budget and Members’ remuneration by Direct Initiative. The U.S. Government shall deposit to the IQA’s account its total annual budget one month in advance of its initial convocation and each anniversary thereof.

If the annual budget in not available, the IQA shall have the power to borrow on the credit of the United States. If U.S. government sources are unavailable, this Amendment may be funded by philanthropic sources and the States.
The IQA shall be exempt from taxes or levies. The IQA may incorporate and dissolve in States of its choice. For legal action against them, this Amendment grants the IQA and its Members the same protections and immunities as Congress and congresspersons.

Explanation of Assembly Self-Governing Rules

Whereas Congress can change congressional rules, the rules constituting the IQA Charter requires Direct Initiative approval of the People. In this way, the People assume full control of the IQA and the Initiative process insofar as they do not violate the Constitution—government is not involved.

To give the Assembly a defined self-governing legal status, it can incorporate itself. However, litigation can breach corporate shields with relative ease, so the Members must have legal protection against potential personal attacks. Congressional protection has proved very adequate.

To cover the possibility that Congress fails to fund the Initiatives process, then the final source can be philanthropic funds and the States.

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3.6: Assembly Power Change Control by Supreme Court

To limit future changes in IQA powers, the Supreme Court shall have the power to require the IQA’s rules to use a supermajority vote by its Members, a double majority Direct Initiative, or a double supermajority Direct Initiative approval by the People to change a rule or implement a new rule. Whenever the IQA requests the Supreme Court, it shall promptly advise the IQA of its probable opinions on proposed rule changes.

 

 

Explanation of Assembly Power Change Control by Supreme Court

The Supreme Court can intervene to prevent the IQA from creating or changing the rules to permit too low or too high a level of approval. It assures that the IQA cannot use its rules to gain more power than intended by the Constitution. It also provides guidance to the IQA to minimize error and subsequent confusion.

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4.1: Implementation of Initiatives Amendment by Government Actions

The Congress, the President, the Courts, and the States shall have power and are hereby ordered to enforce implementation of this article by appropriate legislation, executive authority, judgment, and action. They shall implement expeditiously and cooperatively the intentions of this Amendment and as described by the documents “Government Actions” and “IQA Rules” that are hereby incorporated by reference.

They shall convene the IQA within one year of this Amendment’s ratification whether or not all the intentions of this Amendment have been met. If a first branch of government fails its obligation while a second has the ability, then the second shall exercise that power.

These obligations shall continue upon successor Congresses, Presidents, Courts, and States until the People by Direct Initiative affirm that the intentions of this Amendment have been satisfied; until this affirmation, the Federal Courts shall have jurisdiction and responsibility by court order to enforce compliance with this Constitutional Amendment, and continuing failure to comply shall be sedition and punishment shall include time in prison.

 

Explanation of Implementation of Initiatives Amendment by Government Actions

Implementation details are not appropriate in the Constitution’s and are therefore in a reference document – the Constitution can do this because it is the supreme document setting its own precedents. These Government Actions can never be sufficiently precise to ensure absolute compliance. In the event that a recalcitrant Congress, President, Courts, or States should fail their obligations, these obligations shall fall upon other branches that can fulfill the obligations in full or in part, or shall fall upon their successors. This will permit the People to use their electoral vote to enforce compliance. Although the Amendment requires governments’ cooperation, the IQA can always remedy any defects by Initiative—its initial convocation should take place on time despite any defect or reason.

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4.2: Governments Shall Preserve, Protect, and Defend Initiatives

The Governments shall tolerate no law, regulation, or actions that impede or limit the use of U.S. Initiatives or the IQA’s access to information. The Governments shall preserve, protect, and defend Initiatives, the Assembly and its independence. During the time periods specified by the Assembly, the Governments shall protect, defend, and punish violation of, the IQA’s and each Member’s and family’s privacy, freedom from tampering, freedom from press, media intrusion or exploitation, and failure of duty to serve. Punishments shall penetrate all shields to reach decision makers, include mandatory jail terms, and use fines based on percentage of total assets.

Explanation of Governments Shall Preserve, Protect, and Defend Initiatives

IQA Members and their families are private persons. The Amendment must protect this status. The situation is similar to a Grand Jury except that the IQA would be even more tempting to media. The Member’s status must be in the Amendment, or the Supreme Court might allow media access under Amendment 1. Corporate shields and vast assets protect the most potentially dangerous offenders; they must anticipate discomfort of punishment equally no matter their status.

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4.3: Implementation of Assembly Charter and Rules

This Amendment hereby adopts Implementation of Assembly Charter and Rules of the reference document “IQA Rules” for the IQA and binds it to follow them.

Explanation of Implementation of Assembly Charter and Rules

 

By adopting the rules for the IQA, they become binding on the IQA yet are separable from  the Constitution. In effect, it “spins off” the IQA as a viable entity. The IQA’s Charter limits the IQA’s authority to current needs and requires nationwide Initiatives to change these limits.

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5.1: Guarantee Clause Clarification

Article IV, Section 4 of the United States Constitution (Guarantee Clause) shall be, and hereby is, amended by appending the following sentence: “State referendums, and United States and State initiatives selected or qualified by popular signature petition or an IQA, are consistent with and not a contravention of a republican form of government.”

Explanation of Guarantee Clause Clarification

 

Though there are good reasons to believe that nationwide Initiatives are permissible under the Constitution’s republican form of government, arguments can dispute this view based on the Guarantee Clause. The Supreme Court has indicated that it might regard this as a political issue falling within congressional purview. This would be unacceptable, so this Amendment must resolve the issue.

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6.1: Repeal Safeguard

This Amendment pre-authorizes that the People may repeal this Amendment. Article V of the United States Constitution shall be, and hereby is, amended by appending the following two sentences at the end of the second clause: “Ten years and again twenty years after a U.S. Direct Initiative first appears on nationwide ballot, the IQA shall include a Candidate Direct Initiative to repeal the Amendment when passed by a double majority vote. Should the Electorate choose repeal, Initiatives previously or concurrently passed shall remain as if they had originally been enacted by Congress and Congress may then change or overrule them as regular business of the Congress subject to Presidential approval.”

Explanation of Repeal Safeguard

This Amendment is for the benefit of the People who ordained and established the Constitution. Therefore, it is up to the People to repeal the Amendment if they find it unsatisfactory. Inclusion of a graceful repeal process is reassurance to some who otherwise might be unwilling to support it. With greater difficulty, a constitutional amendment may also repeal it—as Amendment XXI repealed prohibition.

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7.1: State Ratification Within Seven Years

The article shall be inoperative unless, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States, the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or if the Congress proposes them by conventions in three fourths thereof, shall have ratified it as an Amendment to the Constitution.

———  END  ———

Explanation of State Ratification Within Seven Years

State Ratification: The article shall be inoperative unless, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States, the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or if the Congress proposes them by conventions in three fourths thereof, shall have ratified it as an Amendment to the Constitution. Congress has consistently added this ratification standard clause to recent Amendments.

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