‘Connecticut's Constitution Lobby’ looks for support
By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Regional - posted Tue., Aug. 23, 2011
On Aug. 21, attorney Deborah Stevenson gave a presentation on “Connecticut's Constitution Lobby” at the Abington Congregational Church. The lobby group was formed by the non-profit organization, We the People of Connecticut, Inc. More than a dozen people gathered to hear her speak.
“We're asking that government officials obey the Constitution,” said Stevenson. “That's the only thing we're asking.”
Stevenson is the chief counsel for the lobby, which she said was the first of its kind in the country. New York and Iowa have formed constitution lobbies, and 20 other states are in the process of forming them, according to Stevenson. The goal is to have a constitution lobby in every state of the country, she said.
What Stevenson and the members of We the People envision is a team of monitors in every state paying close attention to officials in local, state and federal positions.
“We want to see to it that state legislators adhere to the state constitutions and federal legislators adhere to the federal Constitution,” Stevenson said. When there is a perceived violation of the Constitution, these monitors will forward the information on to a Citizen Vigilance Center. The centers will be staffed with attorneys and paralegals to investigate the reports. If laws are broken or statutes ignored, strategies for redressing the violation will be discussed by center staff, Stevenson said.
Actions could include serving petitions for redress of grievance, educating the public about the violation, and if necessary, taking steps to enforce the rights of the people, said Stevenson.
“Everyone has a lobby,” Stevenson said. “The only one that doesn't have a lobby is us, the people.” She said that the lobby's vision is to have 3 to 5 percent of the population join the lobby. “We'd be larger than all the other lobbies and unions in the state,” she said.
“I was so excited about this idea,” said Mary Smutnick, organizer of the event. “We can finally do something about the overreaching of the elected officials.” It’s more about principle than party for Smutnick. “This is it. It makes government at all levels adhere to the Constitution,” she said. “This is powerful stuff.”