“The voters don’t realize that they’re giving up their own power and giving it to the legislature.” Attorney General Josh Stein gave this line to reporters following the conclusion of a work session of the Constitutional Amendment Publication Commission on July 31st.
John Locke Foundation’s Mitch Kokai writes for Carolina Journal’s Daily Journal that A.G. Josh Stein’s perplexing comment suggests now might be a good time for a refresher course on the way people exercise power in our system of government.
Voters giving up their power? Really? Which of the six constitutional amendments would achieve that dubious end?
To analyze the attorney general’s comment, it’s important to remind ourselves about key details of the constitutional amendment process.
The N.C. Constitution acts as state government’s fundamental document. It spells out powers for various government actors and sets limits for them. It reminds people — and government — about inviolable rights. It supersedes any other state law and defers only to the dictates of the U.S. Constitution.
Our state constitution is so important that only the people can amend it. They have opportunities to approve amendments only after three-fifths, or 60 percent, of both the N.C. House and Senate endorse proposals for voters to consider.
When people vote on amendments, they do not give up power. They exercise power.
In general, voting offers one of the few opportunities in our system of government for “the people” to exercise power. In most cases, voters delegate their power to elected officials. If the system works well, those officials reflect the choices and priorities of the people who elected them.
Read Mitch’s full article here.