Right of Recall2018-10-26T23:28:30+00:00

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 included 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 20th 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, which the Constitution clearly leaves 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.

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Right of Recall: ACRU Court Activity

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Right of Recall: ACRU Commentary

  • Wisconsin's New Aristocracy Is on the Ballot

    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 …
  • Texas Hold 'Em Unfolds in El Paso

    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. …
  • Left-Wing Wisconsin Recall Amnesia

    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 …
  • Waging War, Union-style, in Wisconsin

    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 …
  • Wisconsin Showdown

    Wisconsin Showdown

    This column by ACRU General Counsel Peter Ferrara was published February 23, 2011 on The American Spectator website . Nationwide, …

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