Dear democracy devotees,
With challenges come opportunities. Our latest unexpected challenge brings the exciting opportunity to create new law at the Utah Supreme Court that would empower people over corporate-controlled governments. We're in the business of reworking Constitutions to empower people and it's thrilling that we may do that much sooner than any of us anticipated.
But we need your help. Our opportunity with the Supreme Court has cost us $360 in a filing fee and we need to recoup those funds. Please consider making a donation in the box on the right-side column of this website.
First, as you may already know, the Salt Lake City recorder has rejected our ballot initiative as illegal. State law from the Legislature and really dusty-old Supreme Court precedents have stopped us cold on our march to the ballot (read Salt Lake City attorney Ed Rutan's legal opinion here). In short, our ballot initiative doesn't have a legal impact, it doesn't create a law; instead it is a resolution, a statement that encapsulates the collective will of the people to amend the Constitution, which is no small thing! Nevertheless, resolutions are arguably illegal as a citizen-lead ballot initiative; at least Salt Lake City thinks so. There is no good rationale that we understand for limiting the people's 1st Amendment Rights at the ballot box. The Legislature passes resolutions all the time and even places them on the ballot. It's clear that the Utah Constitution gives the people powers to legislate that are coequal and coextensive of the Legislature, so we believe our resolution is indeed legal and Constitutional—but more on that in a bit.
Second, we thought the Salt Lake City Council, seeing that so many city residents wanted this on the ballot, could easily rescue us and put our issue on the ballot on our behalf with a simple vote. Uh, not quite. We have overwhelming support from the council and they would put it on November's ballot if they believed that they could. Alas, those corrupt state laws again: there are only 8 types of ballot issues city councils can place on presidential-election-year ballots and the state Legislators—always jealously picking at any power wielded by anyone besides themselves—have seen to it that City-Council-lead ballot resolutions can only appear in off-year elections (when voter participation is much lower).
So, we're at an impasse with Salt Lake City. The mayor, the city council, the city bureaucracy, they all support us and what we're trying to do, but they feel that their hands are tied. But WE, THE PEOPLE, have a plan to liberate our city and unleash greater powers of direct democracy right now in 2012.
We're proud to announce that we've filed an appeal to the Utah Supreme Court that would expand any Utah citizen's right to ballot initiatives to include resolutions, and possibly much more. Our argument is essentially that the citizens' right to ballot initiative, which is established in the Utah Constitution, is no less than the power of the legislature—so if they can pass resolutions that appear on the ballot, so certainly can we. All these accumulated requirements for what we can do and can't do, and when we can do it, all amount to unconstitutional infringement of our right to direct democracy. Seems fair and uncomplicated, right? We're hoping the Supreme Court sees it that way. Our awesome legal brief was authored by Move to Amend Organizing Collective member Caleb Proulx—you can read it here. We're expecting Salt Lake City's reply to the Supreme Court by July 2.
At some point this summer, we will likely have oral argument where these important issues regarding the power of the people will be discussed in the most hallowed court room in Utah. And Move to Amend—that's YOU and we, and all of us—will be there, arguing on behalf of the people that a government OF, BY AND FOR THE PEOPLE certainly must include the right to ballot initiative resolutions.
Let's be clear: this task is daunting and success is not assured. But we were daunted by our task of collecting over 11,000 signatures as well, and together we accomplished that. A victory at the Supreme Court would be momentous and it's within grasp. We can do this, but we do need your help and this time that help is money. We're spending hundreds of volunteer hours trying to take these curves like we're on rails but the court wants a $360 as a filing fee, and we can't volunteer away that fee. We need to collect those funds so that this hard work can continue. Please make your donation right here, right now.
Risk everything for liberty,
Move to Amend Organizing Collective