Direct Democracy


Course Code:
LAW 557
2 - 3
Law Honors/Pass/Restrd Cr/Fail


In recent years, the use of ballot measures has sharply risen, and initiatives and referenda have featured prominently in contested debates over immigration, affirmative action, abortion, same sex marriage and term limits. This seminar will focus on direct democracy as a method of lawmaking. Our principal focus will be on initiatives and referenda, but we will allocate some time to the recall, as well. We will consider the history, practice, theoretical justifications, and constitutional dimensions of direct democracy, as well as how direct democracy interacts with representative democracy. We will also explore many legal questions that have arisen in as ballot measures have been used as instruments of governance and policy. Topics will include whether direct democracy comports with the federal constitution; judicial review and interpretation of ballot measures; minority rights under direct democracy; election rules relating to signature gathering, qualifying ballot measures and campaign finance; and the role of interest groups. I anticipate one or more guest lecturers.nnEach student will present on one particular ballot measure that is linked to that week's topics. Students will write either multiple response papers (for W credit) or a final research paper (for R credit) on a topic to be worked out with the instructor.nnSpecial Instructions: After the term begins, students accepted into the course can transfer from section (01) into section (02), which meets the R requirement, with consent of the instructor. Students taking the seminar for R credit can take the seminar for either 2 or 3 units, depending on the paper length.nnnElements used in grading: Class participation, written assignments, multiple response papers or a final paper.nnnWriting (W) credit is for 3Ls only.

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