Referendum on abortion law?

The Strib notes there is talk of referring the new abortion law to a public vote. (Via Proud Liberal Journal). As the story notes, a referral would stop the law from taking effect until the vote, thereby producing the same result as a lawsuit seeking to block it.

The state Constitution guarantees the right of referendum if requested by registered voters equalling five percent of the total vote for governor in the last election. That means 16,278 signatures. State law requires that a referring petition be filed within 90 days of the Legislature’s adjournment. As the session is scheduled to end March 20 and, if signed by Gov. Mike Rounds, the law would go into effect July 1, that should allow sufficient time for any referral petitions to be certified in time to stop the law from taking effect.

You may remember that by a 20-15 vote the state Senate defeated an amendment that would have automatically referred the legislation to a vote. A columnist for the San Francisco columnist calls that the act of “frigid neocons.” (Via How Appealing.) In fact, that’s one of the nicer things he says in urging women in South Dakota: “Get the hell out, right now. Your state hates you.”

I imagine there’s a couple tactical issues here. One is whether to refer the bill, file suit or do both. Others are cost and which is viewed as having a greater chance of success. At first blush, it strikes me that a referendum has one big advantage. Success would obviate the need for a court decision and any effort to have the U.S. Supreme Court look at the issue, thereby thwarting one of the major premises upon which this was sold to the Legislature.

When a thing gets to be absolutely unbearable the people can rise up and throw it off. That’s the finest asset we’ve got–the ballot box.

Mark Twain

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2 comments to Referendum on abortion law?

  • what’s sad is when the “frigid neocons” are mostly Democrats.



  • Nicholas Nemec

    I think that both sides in this battle are afraid to let the people vote on this issue. The supporters demonstrated as much by refusing to support a vote during the legislative session. The opponents would rather take their chances in court where they are likely to win.

    Getting 19000-20000 signatures on petitions is no easy task and a victory in November isn’t assured. A stay of the law when it goes into effect is a sure thing. The court fight would take years and there is no guarantee that SCOTUS would hear the case. I’d take the court route and sue for attorney fees.