CCRA Seeks Support for Historic Civil Rights Bill
By Hazem I. Kira

The California Civil Rights Alliance (CCRA), a statewide coalition of 23 mainstream organizations, is urging Californians to support the bipartisan civil rights bill – Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 10 - aimed at partial repeal of the USA PATRIOT Act - by asking their state legislators to vote for this bill.
The bill, presently under consideration in the California Senate Judiciary Committee, is expected to come up for a vote in the next couple of weeks.
Many public interest groups have endorsed the bill. Its major supporters include American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Green Party-CA, Libertarian Party-CA, American Muslim Alliance (AMA), Episcopalian Church, Unitarian Church, and the Catholic Dioceses.
The A CCRA statement reads: “SJR 10 is a comprehensive, reasonable, and principled response to erosion of civil liberties. It is a bi-partisan and joint resolution supported by both conservative and liberal Americans who seek to preserve their constitutional civil rights. Time is of the essence. Every Californian who believes in upholding the Bill of Rights must act now. Call your state representation and ask him or her to vote for it. ”
A number of prominent State Senators and Assembly members, Democrats and Republicans alike, have co-sponsored the resolution. SJR 10 reaffirms California’s dedication to protect civil liberties by:
Urging congressional candidates to repeal the unconstitutional portions of the USA PATRIOT Act, such as “sneak and peak”, and other subsequent legislation, this legislation attempts to prevent state resources from being spent to enforce any unconstitutional legislation.
The joint resolution (SJR 10) states that while the California Legislature supports the federal government's fight against terrorism, the PATRIOT Act has conferred to federal authorities broad powers that many Californians believe violate the rights of all Californians as enshrined in both the US and state constitutions.
Seven states and 375 cities and counties have passed resolutions to protect their 61,607,452 residents. With the current debate in the Congress on whether or not to renew sunset provisions in the PATRIOT Act, a resolution by the largest state in the union would undoubtedly create ripples not easily to be ignored by congressional representatives or the Bush administration. Now, it is widely believed by many Democrats and Republicans, that the USA PATRIOT Act has seriously undermined long-standing American freedoms such as the right to privacy, lawful political expression and due process of law.
In the last two-month, three ‘Red’ Republican states - Idaho, Montana, and Colorado - have passed some of the strongest-worded condemnation of the USA PATRIOT Act. It is high time that the blue state of California should do the same.
The resolution before the California State Senate comes in the wake of debates that began early April in the Senate and House Judiciary Committees on whether or not to reauthorize sunset provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act. “It became immediately clear,” said the Bill or Rights Defense Committee in its April 2005 newsletter, “that the legal, legislative, and grassroots efforts to prevent the loss of civil liberties have had an impact.”
At both meetings in the Senate and House Judiciary committees, “Attorney General Alberto Gonzales stated his willingness to make minor changes to the USA PATRIOT Act, and committee members asked pressing questions, reflecting marked differences in their attitudes from October 2001, when they overwhelmingly passed the USA PATRIOT Act.”
“When independent of each other, many individuals and groups arrive at the same conclusion, that is the beginning of a movement,” says CCRA Coordinator Dr. Agha Saeed. “California’s strict censure of the Patriot Act is one more proof of a spontaneous civil rights movement sweeping across the United States.”
In its campaign to help pass SJR 10, the CCRA has prepared an extensive tool kit, including talking points, target legislators, a text of the resolution and more.
For more information about cities and states contemplating legislation to seek complete or partial repeal of the USA PATRIOT ACT contact the California Civil Rights Alliance at (510) 252 – 9858, please visit our website and download our tool kit www.civilrightsforall.net.”

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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