Coalition asks CA State Legislature for Anti-Patriot Act Resolution


Fremont, CA: The California Civil Rights Alliance (CCRA) is in contact with several high-ranking state legislators to reintroduce SJR 22 - California’s statewide pro-civil rights resolution.

On Monday the 17th of December the CCRA met with state Senator Liz Figueroa's staff in Fremont, California.

Jeff Barbosa

The meeting highlighted Senator Figueroa's recent support for the resolution and ways to launch it in the 2005 legislative session. Legislative Aide, Jeff Barbosa mediated the discussion. CCRA member groups including both the Green and Libertarian Party of California, the Alameda Peace and Justice group, and the American Muslim Alliance all joined in the discussion.

CCRA is a statewide coalition of 25 organizations, and was the major force behind the initial circulation of SJR 22 in the last legislative session.

SJR 22 is similar to resolutions passed by nearly 370 cities and counties throughout the country, as well as 4 states, since the passage of the USA Patriot Act in 2001. It states that the State of California affirms its commitment that the campaign not be waged at the expense of essential civil rights and liberties of citizens of this country contained in the United States Constitution and the Bills of Rights.

Furthermore it urges the California Congressional delegates to actively work to repeal any provision of the USA PATRIOT Act that limit or impinge on rights and liberties protected by the United States and California Constitution.

In the last legislative session, Senator John Burton, arguably the second most influential figure in Sacramento after Governor Schwarzenegger, introduced the resolution with principal co-authors Senator Byron Sher and Republican Assembly Member Ray Haynes. Unfortunately, the resolution died in committee in the adverse climate of the 2004 presidential elections. The CCRA has now resurrected the resolution, and is fully engaged in negotiations with high-ranking legislators, many of whom have already agreed to coauthor the reintroduced resolution.

In their recent meeting, the CCRA, together with Senator Figueroa and her staff, explored the current political dynamics, the history of SJR 22, and what steps need to be taken to push such a statewide resolution in the current session.

Passage of such a resolution, by California the largest in the union, could contribute considerable momentum in the overall campaign to repeal the unconstitutional nature of much of the USA Patriot Act, prevent the passage of even worse legislation- such as the proposed Domestic Security Enhancement Act (dubbed Patriot II), and place the issue of civil rights squarely at the center of new political stage.

CCRA is planning to hold a “lobby your legislator” day in Sacramento in next few weeks. Both Democrats and Republicans will be approached by their own constituents and requested to support this historic resolution.
Civil Right activists expect 2005 to become a year of national debate on civil liberties. The year starts with the confirmation hearings for Alberto Gonzales- as head of the Department of Justice in January, and a number of upcoming hearings on clauses of the USA PATRIOT ACT, which are set to sunset at end of 2005. Such an environment is ideal for placing a resolution, which expresses the unwavering voices of Californians to defend civil liberties for all Americans.

This effort, said a CCRA representative, “requires organizations and individuals to invite and encourage their legislators to support and even coauthor SJR 22, and form local coalitions with likeminded Californians from all backgrounds and parties”.

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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