Pubdate: Mon, 12 Oct 1998
Date: 12/10/1998
Source: Shepherd Express (WI)
Author: Dr. William Fusfield

It is very disappointing that the press has not rigorously
investigated and exposed the congressional suppression of the
certification of Initiative 59, the medical marijuana initiative on
the Nov. 3 ballot in the District of Columbia. This is a civil
liberties outrage of the first magnitude, since it directly involves
congressional nullification of election results for a political
purpose, thereby violating the right of American citizens to propose
and ratify legislative initiatives.

Nullification of election results is the kind of thing found in
military dictatorships, but which one hardly expects to find in a
nation committed to free elections such as the United States.

Suppressing Initiative 59 under Rep. Bob Barr's amendment is one of
the most egregious historical violations of citizen's constitutionally
protected right to majority rule, as well as their right to be
informed of the results of an election. Denying the popular will sets
a very dangerous precedent for democratic rule.

If Congress--and by simple majority vote at that!-- can decide that
the voters are not to be heard on medical marijuana, what is to stop
them from denying the vote on any other initiative--or even
non-initiative--as well? What is to stop them from simply imposing
their own will on the people, which, of course, is precisely what the
whole "initiative" process was explicitly intended to prevent.

Clearly there are no initiative rights if we are only allowed to
choose alternatives favored by the congressional majority! This,
however, is precisely what is happening in the case of Initiative 59,
where refusing to certify election results was done to suppress a
particular viewpoint.

Exit polling (69% favorable) shows that Initiative 59 would have
passed overwhelmingly had the votes been certified. The desirability
or undesirability of medical marijuana is not what is at stake here.
What is at stake are the fundamental principles of the right to public
initiative, majority rule, and freedom of information. However unwise
an initiative may be, once it gets placed on the ballot, it is the
voters, not the federal government, that should determine its fate.

Hopefully you will agree that the suppression of these election
results poses very serious dangers to democratic principles and
investigate and report upon this exceedingly important matter so that
further encroachments upon our civil liberties can be prevented.

Dr. William Fusfield