Skip to content

Ballot Initiatives Will Appeal To Conservatives in 2011

February 17, 2010
tags: ballot initiative, Initiative 26, Initiative 27, Personhood Mississippi, voter ID
by Brett

Many people made the claim that George W. Bush was helped by the numerous ballot initiatives throughout the country in 2004 that defined marriage as one man and woman. On the surface, I won’t argue with that assessment. And if it was indeed true, then Republicans and conservatives can look to be the beneficiary of two ballot initiatives likely headed to the 2011 ballot.

The first, and most well known, initiative would require some form of identification before voting. This has been a strong issue for Republicans throughout the years as voter ID bill generally saw their death in the Democrat controlled House of Representatives. But then last year, a compromise bill cleared the House but was killed in the Senate. Some Republicans objected to the early voting and same-day registration provisions and that was that.

The prevailing wisdom is that this initiative will easily pass once it makes it to the ballot. I don’t disagree with that. What will be interesting is how the Democrats approach this. So far, they have basically said two things: 1) this is a wedge issue and not important and 2) we had a good compromise last year that Republicans killed. For their own electoral sake in 2011, the Democrats can not (at least too vocally) oppose this bill. Meaning, that can’t be a part of their platform- that would make for electoral ruin. Republicans, obviously, will be unified in their support of it as they led the drive.

The second initiative is a very interesting one. We have talked about it, but in general it did not receive much publicity (at least until the end of the drive). I am talking about the proposed personhood amendment which would define life at the moment of fertilization. According to Les Riley, the group delivered over 105,000 signatures to the secretary of state’s office.

I want to add that while what the GOP and volunteers did to get voter ID on the ballot was impressive, it pales in comparison to what Riley and his group did. Personhood Mississippi had no political structure behind it. It was totally grassroots, and to get these signatures is nothing short of amazing. There is a reason only two ballot initiatives have even made it on to the ballot- and that is because it’s a very hard thing to do.

As for the politics of this, it’s a little harder to measure. This received strong bi-partisan backing with both Phil Bryant and Billy McCoy signing the petition. Mississippi is one of the most pro-life states in the country, so you would have to assume this would pass. And you would assume those supporters will more than likely also back Republicans. Riley had previously said he didn’t want the state parties working to collect signatures because this was a non-partisan measure. Will either party endorse it now? You would have to figure the GOP will. The Democrats are in a trickier position. They take no stance on the issue, according to their website, so I wouldn’t imagine they will now. However, I would expect many individual Democrats to lend their support.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Amber permalink
    February 17, 2010 3:50 pm

    In the long term what does the Personhood measure mean beyond life beginning at conception? What implications does this have?

    • RandomThoughts permalink
      February 17, 2010 4:25 pm

      Practically speaking the Personhood Amendment would have very little if any implications. Roe v. Wade and the subsequent Supreme Court cases which have reaffirmed a woman’s right to choose are based upon the United States Constitution. Like it or not the US Constitution makes clear that it is the supreme law of the land. A state cannot amend its constitution in an effort to subvert federal law.

      There are only two ways to return to the pre-Roe v. Wade regime. 1.) amend the US Constitution, or 2.) appoint supreme court justices who would set aside Roe and the subsequent cases reaffirming Roe.

      The personhood amendment would only gain any “teeth” if/when the US constitution is amended or Roe is overruled.

  2. Amber permalink
    February 17, 2010 8:02 pm

    So this is just an affirmation of belief with no impact?

    • RandomThoughts permalink
      February 17, 2010 9:24 pm

      Essentially yes. Apparently the leaders of the Personhood Amendment initiative still adhere to the John C. Calhoun’s Doctrine of Nullification. Unfortunately for the leaders of the Personhood Amendment the ideas behind the Doctrine of Nullification were refuted in the 1840s-1850s, and finally put firmly to rest after the Civil War.

  3. Amber permalink
    February 18, 2010 3:15 pm

    Please understand I am very Pro Life but why have this on the ballot. I do not believe those behind it are trying to impact the election as the definition of marriage did in 2004. Although with this train of thought when the Supreme Court eventually decides that gays have the right to wed this will be struck down, sadly. Is this initiative costly to the tax payer?

  4. RileyDad permalink
    February 18, 2010 8:04 pm

    I will try to answer some of the questions and assertions made here

    1) ” I do not believe those behind it are trying to impact the election “
    No, we are not trying to impact the election. We are not trying to help any party or candidate. As has been mentioned, we have received support from Democrats, Republicans Libertarians & independents — and I, the inititive sponsor, am a member and former candidate of the Constitution Party.

    2) “Is this initiative costly to the tax payer?”

    This will not be costly to the taxpayer. The amendment itself will not cost the taxpayer anything, in fact, it should save the state money (although only a little) — from 2000 to 2006 the taxpayers of Mississippi doled out nearly $2 million in Medicaid funds to clean up botched abortions done at the Jackson clinic, but the main savings will be in lives.

    BTW: Free bonus (related) Ever heard of a movie called “Demographic Winter”?
    Getting rid of abortion will have a very positive economic (as well as cultural) impact.

    Voting on the initiative will have a small cost — but very small — because it will be voted on at the same time as the general election, so it is just a matter of printing a few extra lines on a ballot.

    Finally, defending the measure will only be costly if the Attorney General is unwilling to bring in free legal help like they do high paid legal help regularly.
    Liberty Counsel — has a group of Constitutional law experts who have been litigating Constitutional cases in court successfully for several decades. Unlike many of the “experts” who dismiss this matter based on a limited and/ or biased understanding of Constitutional law/ the Court, the team at Liberty Counsel has researched, taught, and argued constitional cases in state and federal court (and regularly win).
    They helped craft the language of the Personhood Amendment and are prepared to defend it all the way to the Supreme Court for free.

    3) “So this is just an affirmation of belief with no impact?”

    NO. We are not just trying to make a statement and this will have an impact on the two fronts that the abortion debate must be fought in ( legal/ political and cultural)
    Legally :
    We are, out of love for God and our neighbors seeking to see a return of justice & mercy in our state and nation. To see the lives of innocent unborn people protected — and mothers protected from the emotional, Spiritual and physical dangers.

    We are seeking a restoration of the rule of law. A restoration of Constitutional government (which is turned on it’s head by decisions like Roe) — more below.

    Contrary to the dismissal above, nullification and interpostion have not been done away with and are used all the time for good and for ill (every heard of Dr Kevorkian or the San Fransisco mayor who defied the court and issued marriage licenses to homosexuals).

    Culturally, however this will have an even greater impact. Since this is already going to be a comment longer than the original post, I won’t spend allot of time, but I can tell you that when you talk to 200,000 people one-om-one about abortion & the humanity of the unborn the opportunities to change lives are nearly unlimited — and we have seen just such changes.
    Our 2000 plus volunteers have had opportunities to minister to post abortive mothers, to offer the help to those considering abortion, to help facilitate finding homes for kids in state custody. To share the love of Christ in practical ways with countless hurting people.

    4) Finally, Supreme Court decisions are not law and can be overturned . Jr High civics classes teach us that legislative bodies make law — Courts do not make law>

    Harmful, immoral, ill-conceived, illegitimate, and illegal/ unconstititutional court decisions (That’s right — the Constitution is the “supreme law” not the Supreme Court) SHOULD BE CHALLENGED and overturned (especially those built on deceit).

    Is Dred Scott still in effect? What about “separate, but equal” schools for blacks & whites?

    How do you overturn them ? You challenge them by passing state or federal laws.

    The last challenge to Roe was Planned Parenthood vs Casey in the early 90′s. Had one justice decided differently, Roe would have been overturned then & abortion returned to the states.

    If the Personhood Amendment passes, abortion will become illegal in Mississippi — which will likely be immediately challenged in court.

    In fact, in Roe v. Wade the Supreme Court noted that if the “suggestion of personhood [of the preborn] is established, the [abortion rights] case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life is then guaranteed specifically” by the Fourteenth Amendment.

    This is from the Roe decision itself — the majority opinion written by Harry Blackmun.

    He tells us how to overturn Roe :
    By defining unborn children as legal persons or “establishing personhood”.

    NARAL — the National Abortion Rights Action League (one of the most radical pro-abotion entities in America) named the Personhood movement as one of the things they are most concerned about — stating that Personhood would “trigger legal battles over abortion that could go all the way to the Supreme Court.”
    NARAL clearly states that they believe that this ” strategy” could “outlaw abortion”.

    This is not a game or a political ploy or making a statement. This is defending life and loving our neighbors as we love ourselves

  5. RandomThoughts permalink
    February 19, 2010 11:46 am


    While I agree with your stance on abortion, I am cynical that this amendment will have any legal effect. And I think you have a misunderstanding of constitution law. While you are correct the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, (along with federal laws and treaties) however, it is the Supreme Court which has the privilege of deciding what is constitutional and what is unconstitutional, and it has been that way since Marbury v. Madison.

    Ultimately the supreme court can be overruled by 1) changing the law (federal or state); or 2) amending the constitution – the particular means to overrule the supreme court will vary based upon the basis of the court’s decision. If a decision of the supreme court is based upon the US Constitution the ONLY two ways to overrule the decision are I. Amend the US Constitution or II. The US Supreme Court must overrule the decision.

    The Lily Ledbetter Act is a recent example of congress overriding the supreme court – however, that case involved the construction of a federal law so it was easier to reverse the decision. All congress had to do was amend the statute. Because Roe’s foundation is in the US Constitution it is the US constitution which must be changed, NOT a state constitution.

    Your mention of Dred Scott in fact helps my point. Dred Scott was decided in 1857 before the Civil War and the passage of the 14th amendment. Indeed it was the passage of the 14th amendment which effectively overruled Dred Scott. Without the passage of the 14th amendment Dred Scott would have been the law until overruled by a subsequent decision.

    As for your reference to Dr. Dr Kevorkian and the San Fransisco mayor as a basis for nullification. I would interpret both of their actions to be more in the realm of civil disobedience. Nullification is a theory that any State has a right no nullify, a federal law which the State deems is unconstitutional. In fact the personhood amendment is just that, it is an exercise where the State (Mississippi) is essentially saying the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe is unconstitutional, it will not work.

    Finally, you say only legislative bodies make law and “Courts do not make law.” Your statement is not accurate in our current system of government. In fact all three branches of government (executive, judicial, and legislative) make laws. While there is a hierarchy when it comes to conflicting laws. Case law from the USSC – especially when it interprets the US constitution – is binding on ALL lower state and federal courts.

    Finally, in your quote of Justice Blackmun’s majority opinion you omit a key phrase which is what will make the Mississippi personhood amendment legally futile. Blackmun stated:

    “On the other hand, the appellee conceded on reargument that no case could be cited that holds that a fetus is a person within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

    You are right that Blackmun tells you how to overturn Roe, but you are incorrect in the means you are employing. In order to overturn Roe using Blackmun’s method you would have to amend the 14th amendment to show a fetus is a person within the meaning of the 14th amendment.

    An amendment to the Mississippi constitution will not effect the legality of abortion in Mississippi or anywhere else.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <pre> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>