Different Routes to Judicial Recall in Arkansas Explained

With discussion in the Arkansas legislature of a possible effort to provide for recall of judges, there is new information available from Gavel to Gavel about the options that legislators or advocates might pursue.

A way to recall judges has been discussed in the wake of some leaders’ criticism of state Judge Chris Piazza over his recent ruling that struck down a state ban on marriage for same-sex couples (see Gavel Grab).

Gavel to Gavel is a publication of the National Center for State Courts, a Justice at Stake partner organization. Bill Raftery, who tracks legislation affecting state courts around the country, writes that if a legal “initiative” is pursued, it would require 62,507 signatures by July 7. If proponents of judicial recall seek a constitutional amendment, it would require 78,133 signatures.

Raftery has a link to a paper by the Secretary of State that defines the options. An initiative petition, the paper says, “may propose an Act or an amendment to the Arkansas Constitution. The difference between the two types of measures is an initiated Act approved by a vote of the people creates a statute that may be altered or repealed by the Arkansas Legislature by a two-thirds vote. An initiated Amendment to the Arkansas Constitution may only be changed by another vote of the people unless otherwise specified.”

“A referendum petition is one that refers an act passed by the state legislature to a vote for approval or rejection,” the paper explains.

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