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Ballot Initiative in the 13th Amendment Essay

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Updated: May 27th, 2020

Giving voters the power to enact or reject law by ballot initiative as a direct method in addition to the legislative authority of Congress would have both pros and cons

The mechanism of the ballot initiative, which enables voters to create or reject definite laws, can have both pros and cons. The pros of the process are in the fact the ballot initiative is the direct reflection of the democratic principles in society when voters can pass laws and make decisions which the legislature cannot address. Citizens are involved in the political process and can act as the fourth power in the state. The cons are in the fact legislators can avoid difficult questions and blame citizens for misleading proposals. There are no ways to correct errors and address the negative effects (Patterson).

Pros of a ballot initiative for the Thirteenth Amendment

The ballot initiative for the Thirteenth Amendment could be realized effectively in providing the proposals for the abolition of slavery earlier than in 1863 were the first domestic proposals in which the question of slavery’s abolition was stated appeared. The combined actions of the public and Congress could lead to a more active discussion of the aspects of the abolition of slavery in all the states (Tsesis). The ballot initiative could also contribute to effective discussing the problems of the involuntary servitude with references to the current situation in society. The power of the amendment could also be supported by the public’s initiative.

Possible good and bad outcomes for a ballot initiative

The phenomenon of the ballot initiative can develop in the country when the decision-making and law-making processes depend on effective public policy. To provide an efficient proposal to be discussed for further adoption, the ballot initiative should be based on the principles of the competence and the appropriate evaluation of the necessary information (Tsesis). Good outcomes for the ballot initiative from the process of adopting the Thirteenth Amendment could be noticed in strengthening the whole initiative process in the country and the role of voters as opposed to the power of the legislators.

Cons of a ballot initiative for the Thirteenth Amendment

The ballot initiative for the Thirteenth Amendment could be characterized by such cons as providing the inappropriately formulated proposals the discussion of which could lead to the usage of inappropriate language and weak formulations in the possible adopted laws. Moreover, the position of the public according to the question of slavery was not the same in all the states. Thus, the ballot initiative could provoke the support of a number of slavery-related bills discussed in the 1860s, which protected the phenomenon of slavery in the many states of America. The issue of the involuntary servitude also required the proper discussion by the legislators (Tsesis).

Possible good and bad outcomes for a ballot initiative

The ballot initiative can also be characterized by the limited opportunities for the participation of the citizens in the initiative process because not all the people living in the country can participate as voters in the decision-making process of the state. On the one hand, the active participation of the representatives (the legislators) in the process of providing proposals of the laws rejects the idea of the ballot initiative. On the other hand, the broader participation of the voters in the law-making process can lead to the development of such a phenomenon as the public’s ‘tyranny’ or ‘the tyranny of masses’ (Tsesis).

References

Patterson, T. E. (2009). The American democracy. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Tsesis, A. (2004). The Thirteenth Amendment and American freedom: A legal history. USA: NYU Press.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Ballot Initiative in the 13th Amendment." May 27, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ballot-initiative-in-the-13th-amendment/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Ballot Initiative in the 13th Amendment'. 27 May.

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