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What has heretofore been said referred to the initiation of laws as distinguished from amendments. The form of amendments is of even greater importance than the form of ordinary statutes. The suggestion that legislative reference bureaus be empowered and instructed to give their services to proponents of laws, should also be extended to include proponents of amendments.
In all the states except one, in which the initiative may be used to propose amendments, there is nothing to safeguard against badly-drawn initiated amendments. The indirect initiative does not apply to amendments. At least no constitution includes in its detailed provisions for the indirect initiative terms which would make it applicable to constitutional amendments as well as to statutes.
In only one state has the initiative been incorporated in the constitution with a view to safeguarding against the adoption of ill considered amendments. The constitution of North Dakota requires that after a proposed amendment has been submitted to the voters it shall be referred to the next session of the legislature. If it is agreed to by a majority of all the members elected to each house, it becomes a part of the constitution. If it is not approved by the succeeding legislature, it shall be resubmitted to the people at the next general election, and if then approved by the voters it becomes a part of the constitution. This modification of the usual form of the initiative as applied to constitutional amendments, can result only in the absolute rejection of a measure, or a two years' delay in its approval. There is no possibility of altering its form during the course of the time in which it is to be considered by the legislature and the voters. This procedure merely brings the adoption of constitutional amendments under the initiative in line with the old-fashioned method of constitutional amendment, which required two successive legislatures to propose an amendment before its submission to the electorate. If this plan were accompanied by something analogous to the Ohio system, allowing the amendment to be modified on a second submission to the voters so that technical flaws might be corrected, something might be said in its favor. However, here, as in the matter of initiated laws, any restriction of this character would be looked upon as a thrust at the initiative in states in which constitutional changes may be made by popular vote upon a submission by one session of the legislature. It would, perhaps, be very much better to apply the principle of the indirect initiative for statutes, to amendments, requiring an amendment to go first to the legislature and then to the voters. Of course the legislature could not finally incorporate a proposed amendment into the constitution, but it could propose a modified form of amendment to accomplish the same result, to be simultaneously submitted to the voters when they are called upon to vote on the initiated
measure. Under such a plan, the legislature could debate the proposal and expose any serious defects either in substance or in form.
To summarize, there seem to be but two feasible suggestions looking to the improvement of initiated laws and amendments. The indirect system of initiating should be established requiring both laws and amendments to go to the legislature before submission to the voters; and any state officer or bureau now authorized to assist the legislature in drafting measures, should be required to extend its aid to those desiring to use the initiative. Beyond this no practical suggestion occurs to the writer; but as the drafting of the legislative measures is aided and safeguarded by the extension of the duties and powers of legislative drafting bureaus, the same aids and safeguards should be applied to measures proposed under the initiative.
COMPARATIVE LAW BUREAU.
To the American Bar Association:
The Board of Managers of the Comparative Law Bureau beg to present the following annual report as to the work and finances of the Bureau to June 1, 1915:
The Swiss Civil Code, translated into English by Robert P. Shick and annotated by the late Mr. Charles Wetherill of the Editorial Staff, has been published and is now being offered for sale by the Boston Book Company, the official publishers of the Bureau.
The Translation of the Argentine Civil Code, by Mr. Frank L. Joaninni, of Washington, D. C., is in the hands of the printer, and it is expected that it will be published at an early date.
The Civil Code of Peru is still in the hands of the Revision Committee, but it is hoped this will be published at an early date.
Most of the matter which would, under the former system, have been published as The Annual Bulletin for 1915 appeared in the April number of the AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION JOURNAL. This has been sent to the several members of the American Bar Association, and members composing the State Bar Associations who are affiliated with the Bureau as members, and also to the various law libraries and other institutions having membership in the Bureau.
Hereafter the contributions of the Bureau to the transactions of the American Bar Association will appear in the AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION JOURNAL.
The financial statement is as follows:
Balance on hand June 1, 1914..
Dues from members, Class B.
Dues from members, Class C.
Sales of back Bulletins
Advertisements in 1914 Bulletin.
International Printing Company on account of 1914 Bulletin .....
Stationery, expressage and sundries during 1914.
Balance in hands of Treasurer June 1, 1915..
There is still a balance of $1500 due on account of the expenses of publication and distribution of the 1914 Bulletin which the appropriation made by the American Bar Association will liquidate, when it is paid to the Bureau by the Association.
June 28, 1915.
SIMEON E. BALDWIN, Director,
SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO REPORT ON REORGANIZATION
To the American Bar Association:
Your undersigned special committee, appointed at the Montreal meeting, in 1913, to report on reorganization and methods of business of the Association, have conducted considerable correspondence during the past year with the Vice-Presidents of the Association for the several states, and with the Presidents of State Bar Associations, in order to find out what views are entertained in these representative quarters as to the subject assigned to this committee. The views were sought by means of a questionnaire, a copy of which is subjoined. The replies received disclose a wide diversity of views on all these topics. It is obvious that the subject assigned to this committee has been a frequent matter for serious reflection to a great many members of the Association. Your committee has exchanged views by correspondence during the year with its different members and has had two or three personal conferences. Thus far your committee has reached no conclusion, except as stated below. This was partly for the reason that the work of obtaining the views from representative members of the Association has proceeded very slowly; and your committee feels that it should in this respect not endeavor to bring its own views to an issue, until it has satisfied itself as to the support which various proposed measures might receive from the public opinion of the Association.
For that purpose, moreover, your committee desires to elicit further reflection and expression of views from members of the Association generally, and, with that view, has compiled in some appendices a collection of materials which will stimulate reflection. After these materials have been published and circulated in the October (1915) number of the JOURNAL of the Association, it will be in order for this committee to endeavor to reach some final conclusion on the topics discussed. Your committee