Let voters decide issues

The First Amendment to the Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law … abridging … the right of the people … to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Twenty-four states recognize this inherent right by allowing their citizens to collect the required number of signatures in order to put a proposal on the ballot for voters to accept or reject. This is called the initiative process. New York, however, doesn’t grant its citizens this constitutional right.

A statute or state constitutional amendment should not be required for citizens to vote directly on critical state issues that the Legislature refuses to consider as possible legislation. The state mandates that local governments arbitrate union pensions and health benefits and regulate local construction costs for schools without providing the funds. Then the state imposes a property tax cap on municipalities so they can’t pay for these higher expenditures. Voters should decide these issues.

The initiative process is covered by the First Amendment. If five lawyers in a marble and granite building can overturn centuries of state statutes, culture, tradition, federal laws and common law in the Roe v. Wade and Citizens United cases, then the Supreme Court could easily declare the initiative process is an inherent, constitutional right that cannot be abridged by the state.


Mount Vernon, Westchester County