The Long Pursuit of Rights


So, you believe some government agency is violating your civil rights.  What do you do?  You file a civil rights lawsuit, you make the argument, a judge gives it some thought, and there you go.  Sounds simple, right?

Well, there’s a little more to it than that — time, not the least.

Back in November, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity partnered with the Liberty Justice Center (LJC) to challenge unconstitutional requirements for the disclosure of donors to issue advocacy organizations.  As the press release notes, “this invasive and unconstitutional law exposes citizens to possible retaliation and harassment for simply exercising their free speech rights.”

About a month ago, Rhode Island’s attorney general, Peter Neronha, filed a 20-page motion to dismiss the case.  And now a month later, as announced in another press release, the Center and LJC have submitted their response.

This is a long, drawn out process that leads one despairing of the capacity of the average citizen to defend his or her rights.  Lawyers must either be paid or convinced to donate their time, and those whose rights are being violated must simply live with it for months and years.

If that’s the process, then that’s the process, but it’d be much better for legislators to keep their constituents’ rights in mind when creating laws.