The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

June 30, 2013

States left wondering about future initiatives


Proposition 8 had been ruled unconstitutional by federal judges, and supporters of the ban appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Lynda Gledhill, a spokeswoman for state Attorney General Kamala Harris, said state officials have refused to defend only one initiative in the past — Proposition 14, passed by voters in 1964 to overturn fair housing laws.

Then-Gov. Pat Brown — the current governor’s father — said the initiative was discriminatory. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately struck it down.

On Thursday, the younger Brown downplayed concerns about the Proposition 8 decision, saying a case with similar circumstances was “very, very unlikely to occur again.” He added, “If it does, we’ll be able to deal with it.”

State Senate leader Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said Brown and Harris were right to opt out of the court fight.

“No public official has the duty to enforce laws that are unconstitutional,” Steinberg said, adding that voters who disagree with officials’ actions can vote them out.

That seems unlikely as more Californians support gay marriage. A recent USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll said 58 percent of registered state voters think such unions should be legal, with only 36 percent opposed.

Many other states, including Oregon and Washington, have initiative processes that could also be affected by the Supreme Court ruling, said University of California, Davis law professor Vikram Amar.

“This is a problem for the 20 or so states that have direct democracy,” Amar said. “That’s a huge chunk of the country.”

California’s initiative process, created more than a century ago, allows residents to collect voters’ signatures to place proposals on the ballot without support from elected officials. The move toward more direct democracy was led by Gov. Hiram Johnson at a time when corrupt and wealthy railroad interests dominated the Legislature.

Initiatives on lightning-rod issues regularly appear on modern ballots, and others besides gay marriage have led to lengthy legal battles. Proposition 187, approved by voters in 1994 to block illegal immigrants’ access to public services, was struck down in federal court, for example.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • American doctor in Africa gets treatment for Ebola BOONE, N.C. (AP) — An American doctor infected with the deadly Ebola disease received intensive treatment Sunday in West Africa and was in stable condition, talking to his medical team and working on his computer, a spokeswoman for an aid group said.

    July 27, 2014

  • Salmonella Outbreak Trial [Duplicate] Trial in salmonella outbreak to start in Georgia ATLANTA (AP) — Three people accused of scheming to manufacture and ship salmonella-tainted peanuts that killed nine people, sickened more than 700 and prompted one of the largest food recalls in history are set to go to trial this week in south Georg

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pitfalls emerge in health insurance renewals WASHINGTON — For the 8 million people who persevered through all the technical travails in the new health insurance exchanges and managed to sign up for coverage in 2014, their policies will probably automatically renew come November when open enroll

    July 27, 2014

  • Hamas agrees to 24-hour holiday truce in Gaza war GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Hamas on Sunday agreed to observe a 24-hour truce in Gaza after initially rejecting a similar Israeli offer, as fighting resumed and the two sides wrangled over the terms of a lull that international diplomats had hoped c

    July 27, 2014

  • Solar car race to end at University of Minnesota MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A cross-country solar car race is set to finish at the University of Minnesota on Monday. About 10 solar cars from colleges around the world are competing in the eight-day, 1,700-mile American Solar Challenge. The race began July

    July 27, 2014

  • Dozens of oil trains pass through Minnesota weekly Railroad documents released by the state Department of Public Safety show about 50 trains carrying crude oil from North Dakota are passing through Minnesota each week.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medical Marijuana [Duplicate] Wanted: Manufacturers for Minn. medical pot program After the long slog to legalize medical marijuana, the state's real work has begun to get the unconventional medicine in severely ill patients' hands by this time next year.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Minneapolis to NYC flight diverted to Milwaukee MILWAUKEE (AP) — A Delta Air Lines flight from Minneapolis to New York City has landed safely in Milwaukee after it was diverted. Delta spokeswoman Kate Modolo says the crew chose to divert the flight Saturday morning out of an abundance of caution a

    July 26, 2014

  • Hamas rejects 4-hour Gaza war truce extension BEIT HANOUN, Gaza Strip (AP) — A Hamas official says the group has rejected a four-hour extension of a humanitarian truce proposed by Israel. Sami Abu Zuhri sent a text message to reporters Saturday, saying: "No agreement to extending the calm for an

    July 26, 2014

  • Arizona execution renews debate over methods SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A third execution by lethal injection has gone awry in six months, renewing debate over whether there is a foolproof way for the government to humanely kill condemned criminals, and whether it's even worth looking for one. Death

    July 26, 2014