Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska filed suit to stop the unconstitutional recall effort against three Homer city council members for doing nothing more than exercising their free speech rights.
Legislators have a well-established right, under the First Amendment, to discuss their views on local or national policy and it is good that they do. Such a right promotes public discussion and advocacy of issues of concern to our neighbors at all levels of government.
Unfortunately, in this case the petitioners are attempting to recall Homer City Council members Donna Aderhold, David Lewis, and Catriona Reynolds for expressing views the petitioners disagree with and for drafting and introducing two resolutions in support of those views. Taking public positions and drafting legislation are activities every lawmaker has the right to do, even if there are people who disagree with them.
As a result, the certification of their recall petition both violates the constitutional rights of the individual council members and would send a dangerous message to all of Alaska’s elected officials that they dare not express opinions on public policy issues for fear of facing a recall effort from a motivated faction of voters.
“In order to ensure citizens can participate fully in our government our Constitution wisely affords even politicians free speech rights,” said ACLU of Alaska Executive Director Joshua A. Decker. “Should Gov. Sean Parnell have faced recall simply because he advocated for oil tax reform? Should Gov. Bill Walker face recall simply because of his position on the Pebble Mine or Medicaid expansion? Once elected, public officials have not only a right, but a duty to tell their constituents where they stand on the issues of the day and we will stand up to protect that right on behalf of all of their constituents.”
Verified Complaint: https://www.acluak.org/sites/default/files/2017.04.24_verified_complaint.pdf
The American Civil Liberties Union is our nation’s guardian of liberty. For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has been at the forefront of virtually every major battle for civil liberties and equal justice in this country. Principled and nonpartisan, the ACLU works in the courts, legislatures, and communities to preserve and expand the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States. The ACLU of Alaska, founded in 1971, is one of the 53 state ACLU affiliates that strive to make the Bill of Rights real for everyone and to uphold the promise of the Constitution—because freedom can’t protect itself.
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