Parties Take the Initiative (and Vice Versa)

22 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2000 Last revised: 24 Jul 2013

See all articles by Richard L. Hasen

Richard L. Hasen

University of California, Irvine School of Law

Date Written: September 9, 2011


Conventional wisdom holds that the initiative process weakens the role of parties in democratic politics. However, this wisdom depends on the assumption that the parties do not use the initiative process to further their own agendas. Although that assumption may have been accurate historically, this Article presents empirical evidence that the parties, at least in California, have begun to exploit the initiative process to both encourage voter turnout and refine party stances on issues.

Part and parcel of the conventional wisdom that initiatives weaken parties is the idea that the courts should view initiatives that regulate the parties with suspicion. This Article argues, to the contrary, that because parties are able to exploit the initiative process, there should be no special judicial scrutiny of initiatives regulating parties.

JEL Classification: K19

Suggested Citation

Hasen, Richard L., Parties Take the Initiative (and Vice Versa) (September 9, 2011). Columbia Law Review, Vol. 100, No. 4, April 2000. Available at SSRN:

Richard L. Hasen (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

401 E. Peltason Drive
Suite 1000
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States
949 824 3072 (Phone)
949 824 0895 (Fax)


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