14 June 2010

latest dispatch from Lessig

"On June 1st I testified before the Rhode Island Legislature in support of a resolution calling a federal Constitutional Convention.

You're one of thousands of people who signed our petition in favor of this resolution. I'm grateful for your support, and I wanted to make sure you saw this video of the hearing. Take a few minutes to watch and learn what else you can do to help pass this resolution:


You can also read my latest Huffington Post piece about my testimony by clicking here.

After I finished my testimony last Tuesday, you won't believe who took the microphone to speak out against the resolution: the director of the Rhode Island ACLU.

The ACLU of course supported the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United, but that wasn't the amazing part of the testimony. The extraordinary part, at least to my ears, was their dissing of democracy. To the suggestion that it might make sense for Americans to deliberate about whether a constitutional right to unlimited corporate spending in elections makes sense, Steve Brown of the ACLU said:

I'm not sure it's in the best interest of this country to be spending hours, days, weeks, and months discussing some of the most controversial issues in this country as to whether they should be part of our constitution. Regardless of whether it is a red state or a blue state... this is not how legislatures in the 50 states should be debating very controversial issues.

Now, I'm a card-carrying member of the ACLU, and I respect their decades of work defending liberty in America. But who, in the ACLU's view, is supposed to be "discussing some of the most controversial issues in this country"? Judges alone? Or judges advised by ACLU lawyers? If indeed the ACLU's idea of democracy means only judges and lawyers can have a say about what our Constitution means, then it might be time to think again about carrying that card.

Our Constitution was not made for lawyers. It was not to be trusted exclusively to judges. Yet somehow we have allowed a professional class of "civil libertarians" and judges to claim to themselves alone the right to say what our fundamental law should be. This is not just contrary to American traditions. It is destructive of democracy.

Our Constitution says nothing about the liberty of corporations to engage in politics. What it does say, though, is that the government should be accountable to "We, the People" through elected officials who represent our views and interests.

But now the corrupting influence of special interest money has denied us our say in Congress's decisions. It's time for us to stand up and take it back.

Watch the video of my testimony and then help spread the word about our effort:


Thanks again for your support."

-- Lawrence Lessig

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