ACLU Launches Constitution Voter Campaign To Restore Lost Liberties In ‘08

September 17, 2008 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON, DC – The American Civil Liberties Union launched a new campaign asking Americans to pledge to be Constitution Voters. The “I’m a Constitution Voter” campaign is a nonpartisan initiative to encourage activists to let candidates – including those running for president – know that the Constitution will be the first thing on their minds when they step into the polling booth this November. In addition to asking voters to sign a pledge to help make the Constitution a central issue in this campaign season, ACLU affiliates from coast to coast are holding events to commemorate Constitution Day and educate people about the rights and freedoms the Constitution protects.

“The next president will have the power to piece back together our Constitution after eight years in which it has been torn apart. Whoever is elected president must act with energy and conviction to restore our lost liberties, end torture and hold accountable those who have broken the law,” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. “By pledging to be a Constitution Voter, you can make sure that the next president will be committed to restoring the Constitution and the fundamental freedoms it protects. When we step into the ballot box this November, our leaders need to know that we care about our liberty. We want the next president to uphold the law – not try to subvert it.”

The pledges will be delivered to the presidential candidates. The pledge, to be signed by Constitution Voters, includes the following statements:

    • I believe that no one – not even the president – is above the law.
    • I oppose all forms of torture, and I support closing the Guantánamo Bay prison, shutting down the military commissions, and ending indefinite detention.
    • I oppose warrantless spying.
    • I believe that government officials, no matter how high-ranking, should be held accountable for breaking the law and violating the Constitution.
    • I believe that the Constitution protects every person’s rights equally – no matter what they believe, how they live, where or if they worship, and whom they love.
    • I reject the notion that we have to tolerate violations of our most fundamental rights in the name of fighting terrorism.
    • I am deeply committed to the Constitution and expect our country’s leaders to act on that commitment – every day, without fail.

    Day One: Stop Torture, Close Guantánamo, End Extraordinary Renditions

    “The next president will have an historic opportunity to restore the Constitution and the rule of law,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office “Every executive order issued by President Bush can be reversed by the executive orders of our next president – with the stroke of a pen, on day one.”

    On his first day in office, the next president should:

    • Ban the use of torture by the government, without exception.
    • Close the Guantánamo Bay prison, shut down the military commissions and either try the detainees in criminal court or under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. If they can’t be tried in established American courts, they should be sent to countries where they won’t be tortured or held without charge.
    • End the practice of extraordinary rendition – kidnapping people and sending them to countries where they are likely to be tortured.

    The First 100 Days

    “The first 100 days of any new administration is crucial,” said Fredrickson. “The new president needs to hit the ground running.”

    The following are the things the next president should do within his first 100 days in office:

    End warrantless spying
    Restore critical constitutional checks and balances when our government wants to spy on Americans.

    Review watch lists
    Order the government’s watch lists to be completely reviewed within three months, and the names on the lists be limited to those who would do us harm.

    Encourage the freedom of information
    Rescind the “Ashcroft Doctrine,” which encourages agencies to withhold records requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

    Stop monitoring of activists
    Direct the attorney general and other relevant agency heads to end government monitoring of political activists.

    Enforce civil rights laws
    Order the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to enforce civil rights laws.

    Suspend Real ID Act
    Direct the secretary of homeland security to suspend the regulations for the Real ID Act pending a congressional review.

    Ban sexual orientation discrimination
    Prohibit discrimination against LGBT workers employed by the federal government.

    Halt the death penalty
    Implement a federal death penalty moratorium until its inherent racial disparities are addressed.

    Monitor “faith-based initiatives”
    Ensure that no one endures religious discrimination when applying for a job or receiving services funded by the government.

    These changes will happen only if we elect a president who is committed to restoring the Constitution and the rule of law.

    Go to to sign our pledge and let the candidates running for office know that in this election, you are voting for the Constitution.

    Visit for more information on Constitutional issues, to sign the pledge and to find organizing resources and toolkits.

    Visit for a new ACLU video celebrating Constitution Day.

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