FARGO — North Dakota's robust initiated measure process took a major hit and, sadly, the occasion was celebrated by many citizens.
It may take another bigger hit in November and, sadly, it would be celebrated by many again.
The state's Republican political machine is determined to take the power from the people using any means necessary and, with willing media stooges and an electorate easily distracted by shiny objects, it might succeed.
Who's going to bet against Odney Advertising, Republican uber-operative Pat Finken and the NDGOP establishment in this state in 2020?
When Republicans cranked up their powerful and admittedly awe-inspiring machine to use the state's Supreme Court to kill Measure 3 it represented a new level of attack on the state's initiated measure process.
Republicans have relentlessly been trying to limit the way citizens can have a say in their governance in North Dakota and are seeing success. The Supreme Court's ruling was a major victory for the NDGOP not just in the short term, but in the big picture.
Measure 3 was an attempt by a group called North Dakota Voters First to revamp parts of the election process by instituting new processes for military-overseas voting, election audits, open primaries, instant runoffs, subdivided state House districts and new legislative districts drawn by the state's Ethics Commission.
NDVF gathered 36,000 petition signatures and the measure was approved by Secretary of State Al Jaeger.
Opponents sued the state to keep the measure off the November general election ballot, saying it omitted the full text of a statute mentioned in the measure's petition. They cited a 1924 ruling as precedent.
The five Supreme Court justices ruled unanimously to side with the opponents. Measure 3 will not be on the fall ballot.
That opponents were willing to use their full political power and the levers of government to try to sway the justices should alarm citizens. More than 100 elected Republicans, including the governor and the entire federal congressional delegation, signed on to oppose the measure going before voters.
It was unprecedented political pressure brought to bear on the state's judicial system.
All the weight was applied not to convince the public to vote against Measure 3, which is politics as usual, but to convince the justices to not even allow citizens the opportunity to vote on it. That is anything but politics as usual.
On the ballot, however, will be Measure 2. Placed there by the Republican-dominated legislature, if approved it would require voter-approved initiated measures to be OK'd by legislators before being placed back on the ballot for voter approval again. Three high hurdles instead of one.
It is a ridiculous bar, leaving the ultimate decision on initiated measures in the hands of legislators — which goes directly against the purpose of North Dakota's constitutionally guaranteed right of initiated measures.
Approval in November would be a dagger to citizen-led government.
North Dakota Republicans don't want their constituents to have the power of initiated measures.
The people's power is on the ballot in November. Simple as that.
But do the people care?