Initiative & Referendum Institute

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Initiative & Referendum Institute
President:John G. Matsusaka
Year created:1998
Affiliated with:University of Southern California Center for the Study of Law and Politics
The Initiative & Referendum Institute, or I&R Institute, is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt educational and research organization dedicated to the study of the I&R process. It is affiliated with the USC-Caltech Center for the Study of Law and Politics.[1]


Founded in 1998, the I&R Institute is dedicated to educating citizens about how the initiative and referendum process has been utilized and in providing information to citizens so they understand and know how to utilize the process.

Wayne Pacelle, Senior Vice President of the Humane Society of the United States stated that, "the Initiative & Referendum Institute is the only independent voice for preserving and expanding the right of citizens to make laws directly through the initiative and referendum process. This vital tool of democracy is under siege by special interests, and the Initiative & Referendum Institute is a powerful and persuasive voice for the right of I&R."

Edwin Meese, III, former U.S. Attorney General under President Ronald Reagan, had this to say about the Institute, "[T]he Initiative & Referendum Institute performs a valuable service to the Nation by providing research and educational programs to protect and expand the democratic process of initiative and referendum by the people in the several states. Having this electoral ability is a critical ‘safety valve’ for effective citizenship."[1]


John G. Matsusaka is the president of the I&R Institute.[2]


The Initiative & Referendum Institute studies the initiative and referendum process and publishes papers and monographs addressing its effect on public policy, citizen participation and its reflection of trends in American thought and culture. Publications include a variety of books, conference papers and publications that enable a deeper understanding of the challenges and history of the I&R process.

The I&R Institute publishes Ballot Watch, which keeps readers abreast of developments in the world of ballot measures, and monographs on subjects such as its report on tobacco-related initiatives in 2006[3] and the spill-over impact of ballot initiatives into candidate races.[4]

Over the years, the I&R Institute has played a leading role in filing lawsuits that challenge different aspects of laws in various states that the I&R Institute views as placing unconstitutional restrictions on initiative rights. Cases filed by the I&R Institute include:

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