In yesterday’s post, we explained the basics of the “single subject” rule: initiatives may contain only one “subject” or they are unenforceable. The rule leads to controversy because the concept of a “subject” is not self-defining and state courts have developed different single subject tests.
Regardless of terminology, most courts seek to justify their rules based upon only two reasons: preventing logrolling and minimizing voter confusion. In this post, we explain why both of these justifications are weak.
Without a single subject rule, a person could propose an initiative marrying two completely separate questions, such as a tax break and gun control. The concern of courts is that forcing voters to vote on this package will subvert the majority’s will. The single subject rule, if it treats tax breaks and gun control as separate subjects, would prevent such logrolling.
We do not disagree that preventing the packaging of certain initiated legislation prevents logrolling, but we are far less sure that logrolling is necessarily a social ill. In our article we provide a game theoretic explanation for why this is so. Here, we explain the intuition behind our explanation, and direct readers to the paper if they want more precision and detail. [...]