Kansas AG Honored for Supporting Federal Lawsuit Against Unconstitutional Petition Requirements

Thu, Sep 2 2010

(LAKE RIDGE, VA) – Today, Citizens in Charge Foundation, a national voter rights group focused on the ballot initiative and referendum process, presented Kansas Attorney General Steve Six with the September 2010 Lilburne Award. Steve is honored this month for agreeing with, rather than fighting, the plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging Kansas’ residency requirement for petition circulators, which resulted in U.S. District Judge Sam Crow permanently enjoining enforcement of the statute as an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment rights of citizens.

“The ruling by Judge Crow is great news for Kansans,” said Citizens in Charge Foundation President Paul Jacob. “But the role played by Kansas Attorney General Six was truly inspiring. He stood up for the rights of the people, rather than blindly defending a statute that violates those rights.”

The Kansas statute bans petition campaigns in the state from hiring people from other states to circulate petitions. The lawsuit was filed by the Constitution Party of Kansas because the residency requirement restricted their ability to gather signatures to become a recognized political party in the state. Rather than defend the statute, Attorney General Six’s office joined the call for the residency requirement to be ruled unconstitutional.

“Attorney General Steve Six deserves special recognition for setting an example other state attorneys general should follow,” Jacob added. “The AG is the state’s highest law enforcement official and has a solemn responsibility to defend our fundamental rights – even against legislative enactments, when necessary.”

In the last two years, “residency” laws similar to this Kansas statute have been struck down by unanimous decisions in the 6th, 9th and 10th circuits of the federal Court of Appeals. Judge Crow’s August 13th ruling placed a permanent injunction on the law, prohibiting the Kansas Secretary of State from enforcing it.

Each month, Citizens in Charge Foundation presents the John Lilburne Award to a citizen, or citizens, working 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.

Citizens in Charge Foundation is the only national transpartisan voter rights group dedicated to protecting and expanding the ballot initiative and referendum process. We believe good government starts with the voter. For more information visit us www.CitizensInChargeFoundation.org.