University of Southern California

Volume 78, Number 4 (May, 2005)

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    Voting with Your Hands: Direct Democracy in Annexation
    Article by Clayton P. Gillette

    Municipal annexation receives a mixed reaction in the analysis of metropolitan organization. Some commentators, such as David Rusk or Laurie Reynolds, view annexation as the savior of cities that could not otherwise expand in ways necessary for economic success. For these advocates of liberal municipal expansion, annexation promises to reduce ethnic and racial segregation, residential density, inefficiencies allegedly related to metropolitan fragmentation, and per capita costs of public services...

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    Rethinking the Unconstitutionality of Contribution and Expenditure Limits in Ballot Measure Campaigns
    Article by Richard L. Hasen

    Supreme Court precedent dating back to the 1970s and 1980s precludes state and local jurisdictions from limiting financial contributions to committees formed to support or oppose ballot measures or from barring corporate expenditures in ballot measure campaigns. These precedents emerged from the Supreme Court at the time of its greatest hostility to campaign finance regulation, when it viewed such laws as impermissibly impinging on the rights of free speech and association guaranteed by the Firs...

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    Social Choice, Crypto-Initiatives, and Policymaking by Direct Democracy
    Article by Thad Kousser & Mathew D. McCubbins

    The initiative process was created originally to enable citizens to enact public policy directly and, in so doing, to overturn the dominion of interest groups and of state and local party machines. In recent years, initiatives have been thought to serve as a check on legislative authority and to provide the people with a means to pressure the legislature into adopting more public-regarding policies. Indeed, the general consensus emerging from the most recent academic research is that, at their w...

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    The Effectiveness of Money in Ballot Measure Campaigns
    Article by Thomas Stratmann

    When it comes to money in politics, academic research has a difficult time establishing that the resources spent by special interest groups influence the formation of legislation, the passage and defeat of ballot measures, and the identity of the winner in candidate elections. For example, the academic literature on ballot initiatives suggests that campaign expenditures raised to pass initiatives have little effect on passage rates; if money has had any influence at all, then it may be in opposi...

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    Voting, Annexation, and Metropolitan Structure: A Comment on Gillette
    Commentary by William A. Fischel

    This Comment on Professor Gillette’s article offers an economic way of thinking about voting on annexation and incorporation. It is not a criticism of his article in the ordinary sense. Indeed, the major conclusion that follows from the analytical model is that concurrent voting on annexation, which Gillette generally favors, is economically desirable. To be clear, concurrent voting means here that the annexation must be approved by a majority of voters or their representatives in the existin...

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    Comments on Gillette, “Voting with Your Hands: Direct Democracy in Annexation”
    Commentary by Jan K. Brueckner

    Clayton Gillette’s paper is very penetrating and full of insights regarding the incentives involved in the annexation decision and the effect of political arrangements on the outcome. My goal in these comments will be to provide a complementary formal analysis of some of the issues exposed by the paper, using a diagrammatic approach. This approach can clearly show the gains and losses from annexation that accrue to the various parties, as well as revealing whether an annexation is socially desir...

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    Contribution and Spending Limits for Initiatives or Other Ballot Propositions: What Evidence is Needed to Justify a Particular Regulatory Regime?
    Commentary by Bernard Grofman

    Drawing on the insightful synthesis of recent Supreme Court cases on expenditure and spending limits on ballot propositions by Richard Hasen, I briefly review the justifications for regulating levels of campaign contributions and expenditures in the initiative/referendum process based on claims about the critical importance of money in politics. My focus here will be on evidentiary issues rather than jurisprudence, per se. I focus on the important question “Where’s the beef?” – that is, exactly...

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    The Empirics of Campaign Finance
    Commentary by Daniel R. Ortiz

    Thomas Stratmann’s The Effectiveness of Money in Ballot Measure Campaigns and Richard Hasen’s Rethinking the Unconstitutionality of Contribution and Expenditure Limits in Ballot Measure Campaigns form a nice pair. Both question existing understandings of the empirics of campaign finance but from different perspectives. Stratmann investigates the central empirical issue in the area: the connection between campaign spending and campaign success. He questions the body of studies that find surprisin...

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    Crypto-Initiatives in Hybrid Democracy
    Commentary by Elizabeth Garrett

    Most Americans live in a hybrid democracy: a democratic system that is neither wholly representative nor wholly direct, but a complex combination of both at the local and state levels, which in turn influences national politics. One characteristic of a hybrid system is that politicians, interest groups, and political parties strategically use initiatives to affect voter turnout in candidate elections, to increase their membership rolls and the funds in their political war chests, and to evade ca...

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    How Much Does Money Matter in Direct Democracy?
    Commentary by John M. de Figueiredo

    The Supreme Court’s decision in McConnell v. FEC held that the broad outlines of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act passed both legal and constitutional scrutiny. The McConnell Court agreed with the defenders of the Act that the potential corruptive influence of special interest money in politics was a sufficient rationale for restricting the flow of money in unlimited quantities into candidate campaigns and political parties. Now the focus of activists has turned to ballot initiative and refere...

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    Federal Funding of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research: An Institutional Examination
    Note by Ryan Fujikawa

    Stem cells present an intriguing dilemma. They tantalize with their boundless medical potential, but challenge with equally limitless questions about their ethical consequences. If not for this ethical challenge, the question of federal funding for stem cells would be simple: How much funding and to whom? Instead, ethical objections, closely related to other highly controversial political issues, sweep stem cell policy into a political vortex. In recent years, this storm has reduced science’s ro...

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    Regulating Democracy Through Democracy: The Use of Direct Legislation in Election Law Reform
    Article by Nathaniel Persily & Melissa Cully Anderson

    Perhaps more than any other political phenomenon, incumbents' capture of political institutions through the manipulation of the rules of the electoral game has commanded the attention of scholars of the law of democracy in recent years....

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    Commentary on Regulating Democracy Through Democracy: The Use of Direct Legislation in Election Law Reform
    Commentary by Nolan McCarty

    At no time since the Populist and Progressive Eras has the confidence in America's electoral process been so low. Just as those movements agitated in favor of an expanded franchise, nonpartisan elections, and the direct election of senators, current reformers have set their sights on term limits, the campaign finance system, and the mechanics of voting. Thus, it seems apropos to explore the link between one of the achievements of the earlier era, the voter initiative, and the uneven adoption of...


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