Institute for Justice Wins National Award for Lawsuit to Protect Recall Rights

Thu, Nov 17 2011

(LAKE RIDGE, VA) – Citizens in Charge Foundation, a national voter rights group focused on the ballot initiative and referendum process presented the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm, with the September 2011 John Lilburne Award for filing a lawsuit in Washington State earlier this year to protect the right of citizens to recall their elected officials.

“Washington state’s restrictive campaign finance regulations make it essentially impossible for citizens of the state, who are not wealthy, to use their recall rights,” said Citizens in Charge Foundation President Paul Jacob. “The Institute for Justice’s lawsuit on behalf of a citizen’s grassroots recall effort is an important first step in restoring full recall rights not only in Washington, but across the nation.”

On June 7, 2011, the Institute for Justice filed suit in federal court on behalf of Washington citizen Robin Farris and her recall effort against Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam. Washington campaign finance law limits the amount of money the average citizen can donate to a recall effort, and also severely restricts the amount of pro bono work lawyers can volunteer on behalf of a campaign. Additionally, Washington officials have added onerous legal hoops which citizen activists must jump through before they are even allowed to start the signature collection process.

“Robin Farris saw a problem and decided to fix it by using her First Amendment recall rights,” Jacob added. “The laws governing recall campaigns in Washington make it impossible for an attorney to work on behalf of citizens for free and therefore unjustly restrict citizen rights. Thankfully, the Institute for Justice has taken action to challenge this law and create a more open and accessible environment for citizens seeking to hold their elected officials accountable.”

Each month, Citizens in Charge Foundation presents the John Lilburne Award to a citizen, group of citizens or organization doing the most to protect and defend the First Amendment petition rights of Americans.  John Lilburne was a 17th Century English pamphleteer, political activist, and champion of individual rights who advocated constitutional government and pioneered the use of petitioning and referenda for redress against government power and abuse. For a complete list of past Lilburne Award winners please click here.

ABOUT CITIZENS IN CHARGE FOUNDATION:
Citizens in Charge Foundation is the only national transpartisan voter rights group dedicated to protecting and expanding the ballot initiative and referendum process without regard to partisanship and politics. We believe good government starts with the voter. For more information visit us at: www.CitizensInChargeFoundation.org.

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