The People v. ALEC headline of a recent ALEC story by Rmuse prompted me to broaden that story with one that gives further definition to this incredibly powerful think tank.
While the American Legislative Exchange Council’s ceaseless interventions into the legislative business of the states gets all the ink, the corporate-owned organization wormed its way years ago into another arena where their presence can be just as influential and damaging. The media has little noted the ALEC infiltration of our court system where ALEC plays a major role as a filer of numerous Amicus Curiae briefs up to and including the United States Supreme Court. Filers of such ‘friend of the court’ briefs come from entities that are not direct participants in a particular action but are simply offering ‘information’ relating to a court’s finding that may “affect its interest”.
In February ALEC filed such a brief in the SCOTUS Department of Health and Human Services, et al. v. State of Florida, et al.case. In announcing the move an ALEC Valentine’s Day Press Release bragged about ALEC’s impact on an earlier health care mandate case in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. “ALEC submitted one of the fifty Amicus Curiae briefs to the 11 circuit; and its brief was one of two cited by the majority in striking down the individual mandate.”
It’s just not health care that has commanded ALEC’s jurisprudence attention. The Washington DC gun law case, Parker v. District of Columbia heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit was also gifted with an ALEC Amicus Curiae filing. The court came down on the side of ALEC, ruling that the 32 year-old DC ban on handguns was incompatible with protected gun ownership under the Second Amendment.
The case was almost immediately affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller. Guess who fired up another Amicus filing along with their BFF, the NRA.
ALEC also was an Amicus filer in the Supreme Court case McDonald v. Chicago. In this case the Supremes reversed the Seventh Circuit that had upheld a Chicago city ordinance banning the possession of handguns.
ALEC can also wander somewhat far afield of their basic agenda. Or so it would appear. ALEC once filed a 2006 Amicus brief in a Supreme Court case, League of United Latin American Citizens, et al (full disclosure; I was once a member of LULAC) vs. Rick Perry et al. It was a state of Texas redistricting dispute dating back to 2003. Redistricting is not for the faint of heart and it’s always political. The benign court decision called for some district redrawing, but presented no threat to republicans.
A recent Supreme Court decision, however, Perry v. Perez, could be troublesome for the Texas Hispanic population. The court ruled that the federal court that drew the interim redistricting maps for Texas (at some advantage to democrats relying on Hispanic voters) must redraw its maps and provide additional legal support for those plans.
What caught my eye in the LULAC Amicus filing was an ALEC statement that ALEC represents state legislators. That’s news to me. I had no idea there was another layer of representation in the elective process. I thought I elected legislators to represent me. I now discover that ALEC represents THEM! They get their marching orders from ALEC, not from constituents.
I could go on with assorted ALEC Amicus filings, but let’s return to HHS v. Florida and review the agenda ALEC pursued in this recent Surpreme Court case that has been decided, but that decision won’t be announced until June.
Here are some points made by ALEC in its “INTEREST OF AMICUS CURIAE.” ALEC described itself as “the nation’s largest non-partisan, individual-membership association of state legislators.” Is it permissible to commit perjury in an Amicus filing? Non-partisan? ALEC is overwhelmingly republican; well into the 90 percentile. And those turncoat democrats who pay ALEC dues are invariably of the blue dog, DINO variety. You don’t get more partisan than ALEC. The ‘think tank’ further boasts that 2,000 legislators are members, fully a third of the national total.
ALEC serves to advance ‘Jeffersonian’ principles of individual liberty, free and efficient markets, responsible and accountable government and federalism. Unlike an earlier appeals court Amicus explanation, ALEC left out the fact that Corporate and Private Foundation members number 300.
Here are the true ‘principles’ that ALEC advances. Bow to ALEC corporate sugar daddies and privatize everything with no regulations and nobody looking over corporate shoulders.
Continuing with the Amicus explanation, ALEC refers to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) as being fundamentally incompatible with the principles of limited government held by ALEC and its members. The filing calls ACA, “extraordinary law” without precedent in our nation’s history. P’sssst ALEC – look up Social Security and Medicare! ALEC suggests that the ACA’s individual mandate is incompatible with ALEC’s state-level efforts to ‘reform’ health care. Now there’s an institutional conceit for you. A corporate-owned, secretive shadow-government acting like it should be consulted before the fed dares move on legislation.
Here’s my message to ALEC. Reasonable citizens who actually reject the notion of a corporate oligarchy and feel strongly that democracy includes ALL people, couldn’t care less about being ‘compatible’ with your reforms that benefit a handful of already obscenely rich people and corporations. We’d much prefer to work with health professionals, academics, legislators who reject dirty money and other knowledgeable experts, with the input of true American patriot-citizens with no agenda other than helping their fellow man and woman.
To the latter, I advise decent citizens to be acutely aware of the Blob that is ALEC. Like the old Steve McQueen movie, the power mad alien ALEC oozes into every crevice of our republic, consuming entire legislatures, courts and citizen’s rights in its path. Hopefully the movement to strip ALEC of it’s corporate members will continue to grow and prosper, forcing ALEC out of business for good – and for the good of America.