News To Make You Furious- Another Visit With ALEC… and a Travon Martin update!

In August, 2011, we introduced you to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the fine group of corporations working to lift the dirty burden of Democracy from our shoulders.  The Travon Martin case shined a spotlight on the ALEC-backed “Stand Your Ground” law, so we thought it might be useful to take another look at this little known and very powerful organization.  The original article is below, followed by articles specifically related to the Travon Martin case.

Original ALEC Article (August, 2011)

Most people have heard the “I’m Just A Bill” song on Schoolhouse Rock on Saturdays.  In this somewhat simplified version of the legislative process, we learned that laws originate with citizens who contact their elected representatives to help them solve problems in their daily lives.  However, this outdated, cumbersome process is well over 200 years old, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has a much more modern way.  They’re aggressively taking us annoying citizens out of the legislative loop by providing a “forum” where representatives of industries and individual corporations write legislation and give it to state legislators for introduction in their states, all without mentioning ALEC.  ALEC has quietly built a library of over 800 “model” bills on every conceivable legislative issue, and their alumni include luminaries like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, House Speaker John Boener, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Senate Minority Whip John Kyl, and many more.

In July, 2011, a massive amount of internal ALEC data including model bills, resolutions, personel, and more were leaked to the Center for Media and Democracy, who built the website to make it available to the public at large.  We’ve included a link to their site, but if you don’t want to wade through all that text we’ve also included links to ALEC reporting from The Nation magazine, and two radio reports from NPR that can give you the basics to make you eye-buggingly, teeth-grindingly Furious.

“Shaping State Laws With Little Scrutiny” 7-minute audio-only report by Laura Sullivan for NPR’s “Morning Edition“, October 29, 2010

“Who’s Really Writing States’ Legislation?”, 32-minute interview with The Nation’s John Nichols by Terry Gross for NPR’s “Fresh Air“, July 21, 2011

ALEC Exposed–  Exhaustive ALEC website from Center for Media and Democracy–  ALEC’s own website

This is the main ALEC article from The Nation, and the articles below are sub-articles linked to this main one

Travon Martin Update (2012)

As we write this the Travon Martin case is still unfolding, but one of the issues that has come out so far is Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, a little gem written by ALEC with guidance from the NRA.  Before Stand Your Ground a person had a “duty to retreat”, or to get out of a situation if possible without resorting to deadly force.  Under “Stand Your Ground” a person does not have a duty to retreat, and can use deadly force if they “reasonably believe” such force is necessary.  This is a much lower bar than past standards, making it easier to invoke self-defense as a legal defense in homicides.  According to the St. Petersburg Times, in the five years before the law the state averaged 34 reported justifiable homicides a year. Two years after the law passed, there were 102, and two years after that, 105.  Current reports on the Travon case indicate the lead investigator wanted to arrest Zimmerman on the night of the killing, but one of the reasons they gave for letting him go was that the prosecutor didn’t think he could convict under the Stand Your Ground standard.

That’s about what we can tell you briefly.  Here are links to the details that will make you truly Furious…

Lobbyists, Guns and Money, by Paul Krugman in the NY Times Opinion Page, lays out the involvement of ALEC in Florida and beyond.

Five years since Florida enacted “stand-your-ground” law, justifiable homicides are up by Ben Montgomery and Colleen Jenkins of the Tampa Bay Times describes the increase in “justifiable homicides” and their impact on real Floridians.

The Law-Abiding Citizen by Brian Morton in the Baltimore CityPaper explains the lower legal threshold of “reasonable belief”

NRA pushed ‘stand your ground’ laws across the nation by Susan Ferriss from the Center for Public Integrity describes the NRA’s role in the law

Group That Promotes ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws Reportedly Funded by Microsoft, Amazon, Dell, AT&T, Dozens More by Jon Ponder in the Pensito Review goes into detail on the states with “Stand Your Ground” laws and describes the boilerplate language of ALEC proposals.

Stand Your Ground Was ALEC’s Vision, Not the Founding Fathers By Rmuse on Politicususa describes how the “Castle Doctrine” morphed into “Stand Your Ground”


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