Continuing the discussion – Responses to opposition statements
Submitted by Alison Jaskiewicz
- Created by special interest group CELDF?
This ordinance was developed by citizens of Mason who requested advice from CELDF, which has assisted many communities in drafting similar ordinances, including ten NH towns which have passed such ordinances.
- Threatens rule of law, legalizes mob rule?
The Ordinance was put forth according to Article 32. Right of Assembly, Instruction, and Petition of NH Bill of Rights and honors the rule of law in that the petition was brought forth in an orderly and peaceable manner, and a request has been made of the local legislative body (Town Meeting according to RSA 21:47) by petition.
- Unconstitutional usurpation of legislative role?
No. The ordinance reaffirms and acts on the rights of the people of Mason as stated in the NH Constitution.
Article 8. [Accountability of Magistrates and Officers; Public’s Right to Know.] All power residing originally in, and being derived from, the people, all the magistrates and officers of government are their substitutes and agents, and at all times accountable to them.
Article 10 [Right of Revolution.] Government being instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security, of the whole community, and not for the private interest or emolument of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, whenever the ends of government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right ought to reform the old, or establish a new government. The doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power, and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.
- Elevates rights of trees over rights of man?
No. No one can use the ordinance to sue their neighbors for dredging a pond, widening a forest lane, cutting timber, hunting wildlife, or any of the countless other activities that take place on private property. These activities are under state control governed by state law.
This ordinance is only enforceable against any corporation or government engaging in the acquisition of land for use in an unsustainable energy extraction, production, transportation or distribution. Section 3 (Statements of Law) is very specific about whom the ordinance can be enforced against.
- Unenforceable, unrealistic and unwise?
The Ordinance is unenforceable only if you accept the premise that the state can legitimately permit corporations to violate unalienable rights, while at the same time forbidding people from exercising their right to protect those rights.
Government is “instituted to secure and protect rights”. When it is rights-denying, it acts illegitimately. If we are content to have our inalienable rights stripped from us by the state, operating on behalf of industry, then we should do nothing. If we believe that we have the right to decide what happens on our private property and within our communities, then we should pass a law that makes these claims legal. If we never assert our rights where we live, evidence shows that we will never have them. This ordinance challenges the structure of regulatory law that denies rights and makes it rights-based and rights protecting.
- Guaranteed litigation. Guaranteed to lose?
No one can predict the future.
There is no vehicle in regulatory law to deny the pipeline, to protect the health and safety of residents or to protect all property owners from eminent domain.
These are the reasons for creating the rights based ordinance. It is the only way that communities have found to be successful at banning unwanted projects and providing protections that the state is unwilling to provide.
Because the ordinance is based on constitutional law, in general, its defense in court is less expensive than defending local, regulatory zoning laws. If Mason passes the ordinance and chooses to enforce/defend it, the town may engage with CELDF for assistance and will pay only for expenses but not for the legal counsel and defense provided by CELDF.
- Will not stop or slow the NED pipeline?
This is an opinion. No one can predict the future.
There are ten of these Rights-Based Ordinances currently enacted in NH and close to 200 nationwide. In most places it has stopped whatever activity was banned in the prohibition.
- False promise of protection for direct action?
There is no requirement for participation in direct action, neither is there a call for it. The Ordinance was simply drafted to include certain enumerations IF any person chooses to engage in direct action.
- Claims to put Mason law above all other law?
The Ordinance recognizes a higher law, one of Rights, which is already found in the NH State Constitution, vs regulatory law (statutes that regulate by permitting the harmful activity that would otherwise be illegal).
Most people would agree that obeying the law is an important part of living in an orderly society. Yet no one can deny that there is and has been bad and illegitimate law. If the people had not opposed illegitimate laws, we would still have slavery, we would still keep women from voting, we would still have legal segregation, we would even still have prohibition. While obeying good legitimate law is an important part of living in an orderly society, it is also important to make sure that we weed out bad and illegitimate laws that hurt people by taking away their rights.
*If we have the inalienable right to self-government and government is founded upon our consent, then when we do not give our consent, government should protect us.
*To claim these rights and assert them at the local level is one of our inalienable rights, guaranteed by our state constitution.
*This rights based ordinance is a tool used by communities to assert their rights.
*When government acts legitimately, it secures and protects rights.
*When government comes in on the side of corporations to violate our rights, it acts illegitimately.
*The message of a rights based ordinance is that rights trump regulations, not the reverse.
Governments, corporations and politicians frequently use legal intimidation to further their intentions. As citizens we can yield to those threats and live with the consequences to our health safety and welfare, or we can fight for our rights.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead