LIST OF QUESTIONS
Can this solution be useful to States that have the initiative
How can we expect the average Citizen to have the skills to be
a Boule (Citizens' Initiatives Assembly) Member?
How much direct democracy is planned?
can the Boule improve Member selection?
Isn’t mandatory duty in the Boule an onerous imposition?
some principal Pro's and Con's of this plan?
What is special about a Deliberative
What is the procedure for calling
an Article V Convention by the Second Method?
What type of
organization is the Boule?
- When will
THEY ever let this Solution happen?
- Who controls the
Why aren't U.S.
referendums included in this Solution?
Why isn't federal representative
recall included in this Solution?
Why didn't the Founding Fathers include any Direct Democracy in the
Why don’t Direct Initiatives require Presidential approval?
Why isn't a Boule of 480 Citizens unmanageable?
Why doesn't the Constitution's Guarantee Clause forbid
not let the Boule make the laws directly?
Why should State governments support this
Though State problems are different from the U.S. government
problems, State Citizens' Initiative Assemblies (SCIA) will solve many
problems with the signature-petition initiative process
currently experienced by the
States. The initiative problems being experienced by the States are
State initiative process is often usurped by
wealthy special interests groups.
no quality control of State initiatives and/or there is no way
for Citizens to change the wording.
State incurs large costs to verify signatures.
number of initiatives can be excessive.
A SCIA resolves all
of these problems and more.
Moreover, a SCIA can be most easily implemented by legislature-initiated Referendum
containing a State constitutional amendment in any of the
24 States that already have
an initiative process. The people can also implement a SCIA in the
16 States that permit
constitutional initiatives. The
planned Boule solution in this web site should prove helpful to
States as a reference in developing a SCIA legislature-initiated Referendum.
The SCIA approach
scale down proportionally from the U.S. population to a
State population. However, the shorter distances in a State should
permit SCIA members the convenience to meet on weekends rather than
weekdays. Larger States should find the
cost of a SCIA to
be entirely acceptable.
The competence of the average U.S. voter receives it greatest test when twelve
of them are randomly selected as jurypersons to decide the truth in matters
ranging up to death sentences and billion dollar legal awards. This is our
guarantee of justice under the constitution. It works surprisingly well, and
when it occasionally goes wrong it is more the result of being given incorrect
information than jury error—it is seldom that a judge overrules a jury
verdict. There is no reason why we should
not extend the democratic principle behind jury service to a much larger
Of course, a jury gets expert advice from the lawyers, judge, police, and expert
witnesses. Similarly, the Boule will call in all the expert advice and
testimony that it requires. The Boule's primary responsibility is to decide
which proposed Initiatives to advance and which to put aside. The requirements
needed to make these decisions is discussed at length in the
Boule Wisdom. The
Boule's broad range of views and abilities will permit it to arrive at good
common-sense decisions about the Proposed Initiatives, but they will call upon outside
lawyers to advise and assist in qualifying the Initiative legislation.
Nevertheless, Initiatives' legal issues should usually be relatively modest because the
Boule is expected (but not obliged) to stay away from complex legislation,
which is much more the business of Congress.
democracy model, wherein a Council of Five-Hundred citizens selected by
lottery had considerable authority to run the affairs of the state, had more
jurisdiction and authority than is planned for the Boule
in this Amendment. The model worked well for nearly 200 years.
In 2004, the Canadian Province of
British Columbia (population 4.2
million) made deliberative direct-democracy history by convening a Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform. The Assembly
consisted of 161 randomly selected voters serving part-time with pay over a
period of 11 months. Their deliberations led to a proposed new electoral system
(a Direct Initiative) that went directly to vote by the people of
British Columbia at the provincial general elections on May 17, 2005. A 60
percent vote was needed for passage, but it received only 57 percent of the vote
and therefore failed. The
reports, videos and voice recordings of the
B.C. Citizen's Assembly's
activities are available for viewing and download. The issues were complex but a
stratified random sample of voters was up to the job. Moreover, because of the
high level of support,
it is understood that the issue will be taken up again at the May 2009
People rise to the occasion.
There is good reason to trust their combined judgment to act wisely in the best
interests of the United States and its People—certainly a more objective reason than the
who have long been subjected to
excessive influence from wealthy special
interests groups and their
There is a limit on the number
and complexity of Direct Initiatives that can be assimilated by the nationwide
electorate during a federal election. The maximum of 12 Direct Initiatives
permitted every two years is almost certainly not sustainable without
overloading the electorate and the Boule. The estimated average is half the
maximum, i.e., 6
Initiatives and 6 Indirect
Initiatives per two-years.
By comparison, the average number
of bills passed by the 106th Congress (1999-2000) was
1,500 per two-years. The average of all Initiatives in all States proposed
between 1991 and 2000 was
78 per two-years. In the 2000 election there were
76 State Initiatives, the most were in Oregon with 18 and California with
12. Thus, the maximum quantity of direct democracy being planned by this Amendment is
Less than one percent of the
legislation produced in Congress.
Less than a fifth of the
initiatives generated in all the States.
Less than the number of
Initiatives in single States that use them most.
Certainly this seems to qualify
as an achievable number of nationwide direct initiatives. However,
the impact of this planned Amendment should be greater than the above number of
might suggest, because the nationwide Initiatives will be focused on important
matters of long-term policy. Over a period of years their effect will be cumulative and
The initial Boule will be chosen as a simple random sample from all U.S.
Citizens who are entitled to vote. This method does not involve any subjective
decisions by sampling experts and is the most inclusive. It is the truest
cross-section of the People and therefore the appropriate place to start.
However, it will be an imposition on some of
those selected; if this creates persistent serious problems, the Boule may be
obliged to find ways to ameliorate the situation.
It is recognized that other
Citizens’ Assemblies have generally been
selected by teams of experts using sophisticated and convenient methods. For
example, they select Citizens from voter registration lists. They ask
if those selected wish to serve on the Boule. From those who are willing to
serve, a stratified random sample is created that becomes the Boule. This is
an efficient and effective way to create a Boule. However, it has
some constitutional issues:
Many Citizens who are entitled to vote are not registered.
Failure to register does not infer an inferior class of
Citizens—for example, since jury selection is often made from
voter registration lists, many who feel unable to
take time off work for jury duty do not register to vote—but
they do pay their taxes.
If Citizens have a general option to serve or not,
Citizens who are passionate about a particular issue can agree
amongst themselves to accept all invitations to serve on the
Boule. This biases the Boule to a greater likelihood of a
Candidate Initiative getting on the ballot that is favorable towards
that particular issue. This type of bias has potential to become a
For example in 2004, during selection of the B.C. Citizens' Assembly,
staff mailed 23,034 letters to randomly-selected voters. However,
only 1,715 voters replied—i.e., 7.4 percent of those invited.
Suppose that some vocal special interest group has sent our a
mailing to their members. Suppose their membership constituted
twenty percent of all voters and half of them accepted their
invitation. This special
interests group might then control the Assembly decisions on this
Though there is no indication that an attempt was made to bias the
B.C. Citizens' Assembly, this may be because special interests were
not interested or because they were caught unprepared. In the
future, the problem may become significant.
The creation of a stratified random sample by experts can lead
to subjective decision-making, which can effect Boule
These may be completely acceptable in a single-issue Boule.
will tell to what degree these accommodations for expediency may be justifiable
for the planned Boule with its enduring
constitutional responsibility. The Planned Amendment therefore
future adaptation if it is necessary, but requires that the changes concerning criteria for selection of
Boule members cannot be made without considerable debate and support:
Selection of Boule Members
Boule MIGHT COMPRISE
AUTHORITY TO MAKE CHANGES
Who May Be a Boule Member?
Citizens Entitled to Vote
Citizens Registered to Vote
By Direct Initiative
Double Majority Vote
Who Must Serve on the
All Citizens Selected
Citizens Willing to Serve
By Direct Initiative
Double Majority Vote
How are Boule Members Selected?
Simple Random Sample
Stratified Random Sample
Today, possible changes from column 1 towards column 2 are interrelated. For
example, finding Citizens willing to serve will generally be by geographic
sampling areas. These can be found from the voter district registration lists,
which consequently encourages a move towards Citizens
registered to vote. Data generated this way can be used for a stratified random
sample. However, at some future time, more comprehensive demographic databases
may permit de-coupling of columns 1 and 2 so the change options may become more
flexible and the sample quality better.
Any decision to reduce the scope (rows A and B) of those serving on the Boule
will be easier to make than to reverse due to the natural human tendency to
perpetuate the easier solution. Therefore, the initial Boule must be the most rigorous and any reduction in scope of Membership has to be approved by
the nationwide Electorate in a
Initiative. On the other hand, changes in the
random sample procedure (row
C) can be made by the Boule because any change can be reversed relatively
Yes, to a degree it
is. But the general benefit far outweighs the individual
It is important that
the Boule is a good cross-section of the People so that
everyone's views are included. When a Citizen is
randomly selected to serve as a Member of the Boule, that Member represents
about 406,000 Citizens who have
similar views. If that Member refuses to serve, a replacement will
represent a different 406,000 views; the views of the original
406,000 Citizens will not be represented.
This can be mitigated
to some degree by finding a replacement who is “like” the original
in sex, age, income etc. But the replacement will never be as good a
representation of the 406,000 Citizens as the original. For
example, if doctors or engineers were excused from serving, who would represent
their views and the contributions they will make in the
When the U.S. has to
enter a war, Citizens are often conscripted and serve under far
more onerous circumstance, risking and sometimes loosing their
lives, serving for much longer, and for less pay. The People
generally expect and accept this.
It is inevitable that
some potential Members must be excused by a Federal Court for
excessive hardship. The Boule itself will provide the guidelines
for the Courts. Consequently, over time, a balanced and reasonable
set of criteria for excuse will evolve. These criteria will be
generally acceptable to the People because the Boule which
establishes them is, in effect, the People.
The vast majority of
Members will find that the opportunity to make such an important
contribution far outweighs any inconvenience. They will regard their
selection as their good fortune and a privilege they would not want
And the actual
inconvenience is not really so great. A Member has to serve about
one week per month for thirteen months and returns home for
three-quarters of the time. Most will also find that their
remuneration exceeds their normal income.
Moreover, a U.S. Citizen who
is entitled to vote has an annual chance of being selected to serve on the
Boule of only about one in 406,000. By
comparison, the annual
being killed in an automobile accident is about one in 6,300. So,
you are about 64 times more likely to be killed in an automobile
accident than to be selected to serve on the Boule. Logically,
anyone who fears being selected for the Boule should perhaps
consider not driving.
It is an excellent
return on investment
and could save the taxpayers many billions of dollars every
constitution is long, arduous and could cost its supporters
hundreds of millions of dollars.
Some moral and
ethical issues are best resolved non-politically by the
People because the issues are too politically controversial
for Government to confront.
It is easier to let the Congress muddle
through and the Supreme Court to add reinterpretations to
If after 10 or 20 years this Amendment does
not meet expectations, the Electorate can
(without a constitutional amendment).
It is a new amendment and it may not work as
its proponents expect.
Because it can
constitutional amendments as well as enact federal
legislation, it will be an effective continuing check and balance on
legislative loopholes, end-runs, and Government excesses.
special interests groups and Congress are very clever and often
find ways around the rules to achieve their objectives.
It will involve issues of
nationwide concern that will increase the level of
Citizen participation and increase their obligation to make
their decisions work.
There will be more election material to read
and the responsibility for decisions cannot be blamed on
If the People take action, they control their
destiny—in the American tradition of the great experiment in
democracy. The simple right to propose initiatives can ease
The People believe Government excesses are
really bad, but consider themselves helpless to affect
All national assemblies
deliberate to some degree and are therefore deliberative. What is special here
is that randomly selected voters are generally not familiar with the process and
need well-defined procedures to come up-to-speed quickly. These procedures will
evolve with experience. In a nutshell, the
starting procedure used in this plan is:
- The entire Boule meets to determine the information and presentations
it wants to receive about a subject such as a proposed Initiative.
- The entire Boule meets and is briefed on the facts.
- The Boule divides into randomly selected groups of about 15 Members,
who debate the subject for several hours and generate a limited number of questions.
- The entire Boule meets and each group raises questions (if they
have not been raised by a previous group). Where appropriate they are debated and/or sources of additional
information are identified.
- The Boule later receives answers or additional information relating
to unanswered questions.
- Steps 3 to 5 are repeated until the Boule is satisfied that it has
all the information it needs. This may be followed by a vote on the subject.
The deliberative process of
randomly selected citizens has been
extensively studied and tried in many countries over the last 20 years.
After the deliberative process, participants have more thoughtful, wiser, and
McCombs & Reynolds,
Cohen and Sabel,
Ackerman and Fishkin,
et al). This
process is adapted for use in the Boule.
Basic rules, guidelines and
techniques are established for the Members' deliberation. These are taught to
all Members in the month before they start to participate in the Boule's
meetings. Outside teachers and facilitators will participate in the training,
but when the Boule meets, its members will fulfill all functions without
outside help. Members may eventually participate as trainers. After a while, the
Boule will develop its own culture. It is expected that the culture will
include, for example:
- Each Member is equal and worthy of equal consideration from other
- At each small-group meeting, a Member is selected as its Moderator to control the
process but not the content. Moderators make possible the participation of
all Members and do not vigorously promote their own views.
- Debate and logical persuasion are permitted; power politics,
negotiation, intimidation and vote trading are not.
- Since every Member knows they are part of one minority or another, they
can empathize with minority issues and assure minority views are given fair
- Techniques of group dynamics are applied, such as how to make
participation easy and to support anyone
offended by a debate.
- Time limits are set for the groups to meet (usually about three hours) and for each Member to speak
while others want the floor.
- The number of questions that each group can forward to the Boule is usually limited to one.
At the end of the process, the
Boule Members will have become well informed on the subject and able to make
good decisions—perhaps better than most national legislatures whose members
sometimes vote on legislation whose debate they have not attended and whose text
they have never read.
The purpose of the Boule is to deliberate in order to find the best solutions
to problems. A related process called a Deliberative Poll®* is a survey of a
random sample of citizens before and after the group has had a chance to
deliberate seriously on the issue (Ackerman and Fishkin p4,
PBS). In essence, the
Boule's function is prescriptive while a Poll's
function is predictive. The two processes have much in common and can benefit from shared
experiences. Moreover, reliable Deliberative Polls will often be an important
source of information (and possibly of performance feedback) for the Boule.
When the Boule places a Candidate Initiative on the ballot, their views
will be attached. The Electorate will find their views to be well considered,
and will generally pay them close attention, substantially offsetting much of
the hysteria raised in the Media.
*Deliberative Polling® is a
trademark of James S. Fishkin.
Many precedents have been set by the 400 or so State applications to Congress
for Article V Conventions. The right of a two-thirds majority of the States
(i.e., 34 States) to call an Article V Convention is clearly defined in the Constitution. However, though Congress has
defined procedures by which the States can call an Article V Convention, it
has avoided passing legislation incorporating the procedures into law. In fact,
on the four occasions that it appeared that the States would successfully call
an Article V Convention to propose an Amendment, Congress pre-empted the
States by proposing the Amendment itself—i.e., Amendments 17 (direct election
of Senators), 18 (Repeal of Prohibition), 22 (Limitations on Presidential
Terms), and 25 (Presidential Succession).
The fundamentals for the
States to call successfully for an Article V Convention are to make sure
that all steps are completed correctly, to follow the procedures that Congress
has defined even if they are not formally laws, and to avoid or overcompensate
in areas where any uncertainties exist. This is not difficult to do provided the
States coordinate their efforts.
The Boule is similar
in various ways to
several existing forms of organization that can serve as a reference point, but
non describe it precisely:
It fulfills a
similar function to
signature petitions used in many states. This is granted as
a right of the People in the State, and is not normally given a
formal organizational status. However, the Boule goes
beyond signature petitions by accepting Citizens' feedback on proposed initiatives,
ranking them, ensuring their quality, avoiding special interests'
control, and ensuring that the
Voters are not overwhelmed.
It is also
similar to other Citizens
Assemblies on other issues, except that their powers are
generally defined by government and they generally serve to
advise government on specific issues.
In the U.K., it
might be referred to as
non-governmental organization. The rough equivalent in the
U.S. might be an
Independent Agency of the United States government—e.g., the
FCC, EPA, Federal Reserve and NASA. However, the Federal
Government would then have some effective control over the
Boule thereby defeating the watchdog function of the
Boule is created by the Constitutional Amendment as a
permanent autonomous organization responsible only to the People.
Constitution is the supreme law of the nation, the Boule is legally
constituted and does not need any additional authority or categorization.
If, however, it is found that a legally defined entity becomes
desirable for practical and administrative reasons, the Amendment
permits the Boule
under state law, which it would probably do as a nonprofit
Amendment also grants the Boule and its
Members the same protection as Congress and congresspersons for legal action
against them, and it grants the Boule non-taxable status. In this way the Boule can be convened and the Initiative
process started. Direct Initiatives can then be used to create legislation that
can correct any structural deficiencies that may appear later.
received so far about this Solution say:
Yes, it is a good idea.
Yes, we need it.
There is very
little chance that "THEY" or the "powers that be" will ever let this Amendment pass.
THEY, of course, are the same
wealthy special interests groups, Washington lobbyists, Congress and Media who
all help create and benefit from these
Problems laid upon the People. Mostly
THEY are not organized to cause these Problems deliberately, but are only
following their self-interest. Nevertheless, THEIR resistance to change will be
The approach taken in this
plan is not to persuade by confrontation but to bypass THEM. Some will decide to support the Amendment as a matter of conscience. But
adoption and ratification of the planned Amendment can be accomplished by the
States without THEIR general support. Any reluctant States can even be persuaded
State initiatives in the 24 States that permit initiatives. As convincingly demonstrated in the 2004 general elections, the
People can communicate by the Internet and persuade independently of the media
to achieve power bases, generate funds, identify candidates and create voting majorities.
Faith in the States' leadership has been
earned in the past. For example, women's suffrage was first approved by
Washington State in 1910. State after state followed—the people of
Oregon and Arizona even used the new power of State direct initiative to approve
women's vote. Finally, in 1919 Congress had little choice but to adopt the 19th
Amendment, which was ratified by the States in 1920.
So women, starting without even
the power to vote, eventually achieved suffrage. In the case of this planned
Amendment, Citizens aged eighteen and over have the vote and can more easily
attain this planned Amendment. At some point the People's patience will have
been tried beyond endurance and the momentum to take action will become
The timing is not predictable—this plan may be an idea whose time
has now come or it may evolve to meet unforeseeable
future circumstances. In either
case, since amendment of the constitution will
be long and hard, it is worth starting now.
The People control the Boule as shown in the
flow of control below:
The United States Constitution
The U.S. Constitution established by the
People is the source of the
Amendment specifies that the Boule shall be
responsible to the People. It grants the Boule broad
powers so that additional Amendments will not be needed
each time new circumstances are encountered. However, an
initial set of rules is adopted by the constitutional
Amendment creating limits on these broad powers. This
permits the Boule to have functioning Rules when it is
first convened, but without access to more authority than it
Boule Rules that can only be changed by
Direct Initiative passed by the Electorate
Initiative Rules can only be changed by Direct Initiative passed by the
It is here that the People exercise their
continuing high-level control over the Boule. For example,
the People must approve any changes to: the Boule
maximum term of service, method of
remuneration, the maximum
period of time that Congress may not
legislation passed by Direct Initiative, and the
maximum number of Initiatives on the ballot.
Boule Rules that can only be changed by a
two-thirds supermajority of the Boule
Supermajority Rules help the Boule fine-tune its
operations for maximum efficiency and effectiveness and
define rules that should not be changed easily. For example, a supermajority must approve
any changes to: content and
format of Candidate
the conditions for
those selected from serving as Members.
Sometimes a Supermajority Rule places further
constraint on a Direct Initiative Rule, for example,
Boule Rules that can be changed by a simple
majority of the Boule
take care of the day-to-day operations of the Boule.
Sometimes a Majority Rule places further constraint on a
addition, suggestions that do not qualify for the status of a Boule rule but may be important for the Boule's guidance are
referendum is generally prepared by Government and
submitted to the People for their approval. In some U.S. states and cities, a
"referendum petition" can be used by the People to overturn legislation. Referendums are widely used around the
world to legitimize actions that Governments want to take. Often the right to
initiate referendums is presumed to be a proper power of Government without
explicit authority granting the government that right. For example, the U.S.
Constitution is silent on the matter. The U.S. government has never tested
whether or not the Supreme Court would determine that it has the right to hold
The Netherlands' 2005 referendum rejecting the EU Charter, there remain only
established democracies that have
never held a national referendum: India, Israel, Japan, and the United States.
However, referendums can have sinister purposes, so their checks and
balances should be very carefully considered. "Hitler used national referendums to
withdraw Germany from the League of Nations in 1933 and to consolidate his
powers in 1934. The ability of the Nazi propaganda machine to insure the desired
result is well known." (Polhill)
indirect initiatives vary from state to state. For example, some
state legislatures can submit an alternative ballot referendum on
the same subject as the indirect initiative for the People to choose
between. However, such complexities would detract from the core
issues of the Amendment, and a simple form of indirect
initiative process has been incorporated into the Amendment to
facilitate Boule and Congressional cooperation.
are not essential to Solution of the Problems addressed in this plan, it is
better to limit the Amendment to nationwide Initiatives than risk its failure from
non-essential referendum issues that are either within congressional purview or
can be addressed by initiative.
be recalled only by their electorate. This would occur as a local
action and is beyond the scope of a nationwide Initiative and this
The President and/or
Vice President could theoretically be subject to recall by
nationwide vote of the Electorate. However, this would involve
complex issues of succession and national security. Moreover, under
Article I Sections 2 and 3 of the Constitution, the House of
Representatives has the sole power of impeachment and the Senate has
the sole Power to try all impeachments. Thus, there is a functioning
existing process that permits separate branches of government to
resolve the issue.
Since recall is not essential to Solution of the Problems addressed in this
plan, it is
better to limit the Planned Amendment to nationwide Initiatives than risk its failure from
non-essential features or additions.
The Founding Fathers wrote the
Constitution in 1787, a hundred years before the discovery of Aristotle's key
texts describing the ancient Athenian experiences with democracy. Texts that
they had quoted Greeks who were critical of democracy—especially
Socrates who advocated a
republic led by philosophers. Despite 140 years of direct democracy in
New England town meetings starting as early as the 1640's, there was no evidence that these
small democracies could be scaled up for nationwide benefit. To the Founding Fathers, it seemed necessary
that in a democracy all voters should assemble at a single location. The
methodology of a statistical random sample of the People for polling or to
select candidate initiatives developed over the period 1850-1930. Consequently, based
on the available information, the Founding Fathers omitted any reference to democracy from the Constitution,
but they did not explicitly forbid it.
The Founding Fathers apparently
were not aware that the ancient Athenians considered their city, with thirty to
sixty thousand citizens, too large to assemble in one place. Their key
democratic Boule—The Council of Five Hundred—and juries were chosen by
random selection of citizens. The Council of Five Hundred managed everyday
affairs and set the agenda for much larger meetings of the citizens. (It seems
extraordinary that the Athenians intuitively chose exactly the right statistical
minimum number for a good random sample!) This
solution to the problem of size is explained in
Aristotle’s "Constitution of
Athens", but this text had been lost in the 7th Century and not rediscovered
Starting with South Dakota in
1898 (less than 10 years after Aristotle's text became available), all State constitutions include some degree of
direct democracy—though Delaware is an exception in permitting constitutional
changes by legislature rather than by referendum. Initiatives began as
grassroots efforts to fight government corruption and big-business influence. 24 of the States
now authorize initiatives. Many States were
brought into effect through approval of their State constitutions by direct
democracy votes of their people. Moreover, many nations today include some
degree of direct democracy.
It is reasonable to suppose that,
if Aristotle's text and other information about Athenian democracy's success had been known
to the Founding Fathers prior to
1787, the Constitution might have included some reference to direct democracy.
Though, by omitting the word democracy from the Constitution, they did not deny
it. However, a nationwide referendum on the U.S. Constitution along the lines
adopted now by the States would have been impractical under the circumstances of
1787. The Founding Fathers were pragmatic and did what they had to do.
system of checks and balances requires that legislation enacted by
both Houses of Congress be approved or vetoed by the President. The equivalent
check and balance for Direct Initiative legislation is that two
Assemblies (with many different Members) propose the Initiative and
then the People approve or reject it. In both cases these are multi-step
independent approvals that minimize error.
The President is
deliberately omitted from any veto power over Direct Initiatives because the
President is potentially subject to even greater
wealthy special interests influence than
Congress. Any requirement for presidential approval of Direct Initiatives would defeat the
purpose of this planned Amendment.
The key problem in setting the size of the planned Boule is to make it large
enough to represent accurately the views of all the People, yet be small enough
to be manageable. It is a problem confronting all national assemblies. Their
practical experience is of paramount importance as they have evolved over
centuries to these sizes after much trial and error.
National assemblies in
13 typical developed Countries (Canada, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy,
Japan, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, and United States) range in size from 300 to 660
members, with an average of 480. These national assemblies conduct their
business with reasonable representation of the people and are considered
The planned Boule will consist of Citizens who are not making a career, not
seeking publicity and not competing to be reelected—i.e., the absence of many
factors that drive discord and competition. Consequently, it is
expected that the Boule will be more manageable than an equivalent size
To set the agenda for the electorate, the ancient Athenians used a Council that
randomly selected voters who served for one year. This system survived
successfully for about
In order that the planned Boule has flexibility to fine-tune its size based
on experience over the years, it will be permitted a membership range of 300 to
600, but will start with 480 members.
The Constitution does not
explicitly forbid or allow direct democracy; the issue is unresolved.
Specifically, Article IV, section 4 of
the U.S. Constitution (the Guaranty Clause) states that: "The United States
shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government,
and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the
legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened)
against domestic violence."
Note that this
remedy representative democracy, not supersede it.
There has been continuous
argument about what the Founding Fathers intended by the wording of the
On one side it is argued
that the words "republican form of government" should be narrowly construed to exclude any form of
direct democracy, in effect saying that the U.S. is a republic and is not a
democracy. Support for and against this position can be found in various
writings by the Founding Fathers.
On the other side it is
argued that the Founding Fathers were simply giving the States a broad
assurance that there would be no new monarchy or dictatorship in whatever
form. The actual wording of the guarantee tends to support this
interpretation because the same paragraph also refers
to protection against invasion and domestic violence. At that time monarchy
still had wide support and was a serious and feared possibility. It was
George Washington himself who squelched the movement to crown him by
refusing to participate.
The Supreme Court in 1912 held
that a challenge to the constitutionality of a State initiative was
not subject to judicial review. In other words, final confirmation of their
constitutionality could not be resolved by the Constitution and the issue was left in limbo. Nevertheless, this decision has allowed
State initiatives to be used without further serious challenge. "Generally, it
is recognized that a state government is republican if Congress seats its
(Vile, p109). Consequently, direct democracy
legislation has, by its adoption in State constitutions become virtually approved de facto as part of the Constitution.
Today, republics around the world
allow various degrees of direct legislation. They all consider themselves to be
republics in which supreme power is held by the citizens entitled to vote. There
seems to be agreement that a degree of direct legislation is entirely compatible
with, and healthy for, a republican form of government.
Nevertheless, the planned nationwide
Initiatives Amendment would undoubtedly cause opponents to raise the guarantee clause arguments
again, possibly delaying it for a long time since the argument has no conclusion within the Constitution as currently
worded. Therefore, in the Planned Amendment, an article is included to
State initiatives and referendums and U.S. initiatives are consistent with a republican form of government.
The States are the beneficiaries of the Guarantee, and will, by ratifying
this Amendment, accept this constitutional interpretation and thereby they will make themselves
It can be argued (Leib,
Callenbach) that a Candidate Initiative adopted
by a deliberative Assembly could become law directly, without going to vote by
nationwide Electorate. Some advantages are:
Such laws would be made by
well informed Assembly Members rather than a less informed Electorate.
Similar methods could be used
for State and local government.
The problem of overburdening
the Electorate is avoided, so the Assembly could pass more laws than in
the planned Solution.
There are several reservations to
taking such a large step:
It is less consistent with the
constitutional framework, where the ultimate authority and
source of power to make legitimate decisions is the
People, not a random sample of the People—which is not
mentioned in the Constitution.
A random sample is small enough that it is
possible a few charismatic activists might be able to
control the Boule for long enough to approve an
unwise Initiative. The People can correct such error by voting
against the Initiative. (Of course, the People may occasionally be similarly
influenced. But, if the People make the mistake, it is their right.)
The Constitution's Guaranty Clause states that: "The
United States shall guarantee to every state in this Union a republican form of
government". While adoption of an Initiative by the People is arguably
within their purview as the ultimate authority under the
Constitution, such a claim is harder to argue for a random sample of the People.
The adoption of an Initiative by the Boule
followed by a vote by the nationwide Electorate provides an
effective check and balance that is entirely consistent with the
When an Initiative is passed by the nationwide Electorate, it
psychologically and morally binds the entire Electorate to make
their decision work, whereas passage by the Boule has less psychological and moral force and cannot expect the same
The Boule members are not as qualified as professional
congresspersons to formulate the mass of complex legislation needed to
run the country. However, they are far better qualified to ensure that the
People's interests are properly protected by means of the relatively
small amount of initiative legislation that nationwide voters
generated by both U.S. citizen groups and U.S.
organizations. They will vary greatly in scope and quality. Many
will be quickly eliminated from further consideration while
others will be of professional quality and importance equal to any produced
by government. The Boule will
obtain whatever information and advice it deems necessary and
those in the best interests of the People.
It is an even larger step than the Planned
Solution, and would be even harder to achieve.
Consequently, this planned
Solution limits the Boule to managing selection of the Initiatives, requiring
People make the decision to approve them or not.
Government has an
obligation to protect its citizens’ rights. The U.S. Congress denies these
rights by promoting the welfare of wealthy special
interest groups that fund
expensive congressional re-election campaigns rather than promoting the general
welfare of the People. Congress
will not solve this
problem; but it is within the States’ power to do so.
people’s faith in State leadership to protect their rights has been
well earned. For
example, women first gained their suffrage in the States, eventually
compelling Congress to adopt universal suffrage. For another
example, all State constitutions reserve to their
people some degree of direct democracy within the State, whereas
Congress steers clear of any direct democracy at a Federal level by which the
people might preserve their rights. Moreover,
state legislators are
much more accessible and willing to listen to the People—they
tend to live and work close to their constituents and there
are about 15 times more state legislators per capita than
States have introduced important reforms that protect citizens’
rights and improve government efficiency—for example, term limits
and executive-branch line item veto. Both are commonplace now in the
States but the federal government has resisted them. In all States,
this continuous reelection of
congresspersons locks out numerous excellent
state legislators from becoming
candidates throughout their best years.
on the people by mandating unfunded State expenditure (about $30
billion per year) without an equivalent reduction in Federal taxes
that would compensate the people for the necessary increases in
State and local taxes. It also distorts the allocation of taxes and
resources, thereby contributing to the decline of the American
middle class—a long-term cause of political instability
endangering this nation.
States compete with each other on a long-term basis and thereby
improve their efficiency and effectiveness to the benefit of the
people; whereas the Federal government is a monopoly without U.S.
competition and therefore inevitably less efficient on a long-term
basis. Congress repeatedly makes
preemptive nationwide changes at great expense
without first verifying that they work, ignoring appeals from the
States that diverse concepts should be
tried at a State level.
the planned Amendment, State rights are protected by the
requirement that any a nationwide Direct
Initiative must be passed by the electorate in a majority of the States.
The Amendment resolves finally that the States are not in
contravention of the
Clause. The States will also have rights to propose
Initiatives to the Boule that can submit them for vote by the
aspects of these problems might be solved by State legislation or
occasional single-issue Amendments; but each step is slow and
exhausting, whereas Congress is swift to find and create loopholes and end-runs.
Any meaningful solution must therefore be a long-term process that
can correct future problems and loopholes as they arise. An effective
way (probably the only way) to accomplish this is to invoke the
only earthly power higher than Congress—the Constitution—as
described in this planned Amendment.
States have the power to create such a solution using the
method to adopt and later ratify this planned Amendment. A
constructive first step could be for some individual States to
support the planned Amendment in
principle (e.g., perhaps without any actual commitment) as a starting point
and focus for their deliberations. The States would thereby assume
authority over the Amendment's final content.