Issue: Right of Recall

The right of the people to recall elected officials is a time-honored tradition that predates the United States itself. The Massachusetts Charter of 1691 includes a right of recall, as did several state constitutions following the American Revolution. Even the U.S. Constitution originally included the right to recall U.S. senators, in the pre-Seventeenth Amendment days before 1912, when senators were appointed by state legislatures rather than elected by popular vote.

More recently, the right of popular recall was added to many state constitutions around the turn of the last century. In 1995, a recall provision was added to the New Jersey constitution: “The people reserve unto themselves the power to recall, after at least one year of service, any elected official in this State or representing this State in the United States Congress.”

Recalling elected officials is not a qualification of office, it is an element of the electoral process, and the Constitution clearly leaves the electoral process in the hands of the states.Our Constitution contains several provisions to protect our right to representative government, by and of the people:

  • Article V provides a mechanism for amending the Constitution;
  • The First Amendment states that Congress shall make no law respecting the right of the people to petition the Government for a redress of grievances;
  • The 10th Amendment states that powers not delegated to the federal government or prohibited by it to the states are reserved to the states or to the people; and
  • The 17th Amendment holds that the electors (voters) in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislature.

Eleven states—Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin—also have broadly written state constitutional or statutory provisions allowing for the recall of “any”, “all” or “every” elected official.


Right of Recall “ACRU Commentary”

  • Wisconsin’s New Aristocracy Is on the Ballot

    This column by ACRU General Counsel and Senior Fellow for the Carleson Center for Public Policy (CCPP) Peter Ferrara was published April 26, 2012 on Our Founding Fathers carefully eliminated in American ...
  • Texas Hold ‘Em Unfolds in El Paso

    This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published October 3, 2011 in The Washington Times. North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue spoke for many politicians on Tuesday when she suggested suspending congressional ...
  • Left-Wing Wisconsin Recall Amnesia

    This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published August 15, 2011 in The Washington Times. Some stories have “legs.” They don’t disappear after a day or so but stay in the ...
  • Waging War, Union-style, in Wisconsin

    This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published April 8, 2011 on The Washington Times website. It seems like only yesterday that progressives were warning us about “politicizing the judiciary.” That ...
  • Wisconsin Showdown

    This column by ACRU General Counsel Peter Ferrara was published February 23, 2011 on The American Spectator website . Nationwide, state and local government workers are paid on average 45% more than private ...
  • Time to Recall AWOL Lawmakers

    This column by ACRU General Counsel Peter Ferrara was published February 22, 2011 on Newly elected Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has moved expeditiously to propose legislation to close the state’s $3.6 billion ...
  • Recall Sheriff Dupnik

    This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published January 14, 2011 on The Washington Times website. A lot of people are wondering what to do about Clarence Dupnik, sheriff of ...
  • Reckless Congress Makes Case for Recall

    ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight wrote this column appearing December 17, 2010 on The Washington Times website. If ever a Congress epitomized the need for more accountability, it’s the 111th lame-duck gang. ...
  • New Jersey Supreme Court Rules State Constitution’s Recall Law Unconstitutional

    ACRU will file amicus brief when case involving effort to recall Sen. Robert Menendez is appealed to U.S. Supreme Court. The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled 4-2 on Thursday that a provision in ...
  • NPR: All PC Things Considered

    ACRU Senior Fellow Ken Blackwell wrote this column appearing October 22, 2010, on the World Magazine website. National Public Radio is a monument to political correctness. Its acronym might better be thought ...

Right of Recall “In the Courts”