The Maine Constitution is a worthy document, but simply because it permits something does not mean that doing it is a wise idea. That specifically includes the “people’s veto” provision of Article IV, Section 17.

It says voters have 90 days after the end of a legislative session to collect enough signatures to put a law approved by that session on hold pending a statewide vote on its repeal.

But in a representative system such as ours, in a very real sense people already have voted on every law a Legislature passes, by voting for the people who put it into place.

The people’s veto most recently was used to overturn laws approving same-sex marriage and revising state income and sales taxes, both of which gained most of their support from Democratic lawmakers in the majority at the time. We didn’t think those votes were good ideas, either. But now that the shoe has switched from the left foot to the right one, some Democrats and others want to overturn the Republican-sponsored law that revised health insurance in Maine.

In order to get on the ballot, supporters would need 57,277 valid signatures of registered Maine voters to meet the constitutional threshold of 10 percent of the vote in the last gubernatorial election. Depending on when the signatures were verified, that would put the issue on the ballot either this coming November or in June 2012.

If the veto effort fails, the law’s effective date could still be postponed up to a full year. Despite the success of the most recent people’s veto campaigns, that’s hardly a fair thing to do. Republicans ran for office on a platform of health insurance reform, among other things, and by gaining control of the Legislature they received a mandate to carry out their promises.

They can’t be blamed for doing what they said they would do, and putting their plan on hold for up to 12 months smacks of an attempt to overturn the results of the last election.

The GOP’s proposal is well within the mainstream of current thought on one path for health insurance reform, and we support many of its features, although its sponsors should have permitted more input into its adoption. But, like former Gov. Baldacci’s Dirigo plan, it deserves a chance to succeed (or fail) on its own. Indeed, the outcome here could provide useful guidance for the nation as a whole.

And that raises this interesting question: Are the measure’s opponents more worried that it will fail — or that it will succeed?