Elissa Silverman (Loose Lips, “No Initiative,” 6/4) sees ballot initiatives as “a dangerous mechanism for deep-pocketed individuals and special-interest groups to circumvent our elected government.” I see them differently.
I see ballot initiatives as attempts by concerned citizens to redress grievances and amend bad laws when the government doesn’t or won’t act. Case in point: the D.C. medical-marijuana ballot initiative.
Ballot initiatives, like jury nullification, are not good or bad per se. They are legal tools that can be used for good or bad ends. Jury nullification has been used to get criminals off scot-free. It has also been used to free draft resisters, medical-marijuana users, and other Americans of conscience who would otherwise be rotting in prison due to our country’s Draconian laws. Nullification offers juries the right to judge the laws as well as the facts—a right that has never been revoked or superseded, merely ignored.
The simple truth is that ballot initiatives are double-edged swords. If you ignore the other side, you do so at your—and your country’s—peril.