The Illinois lawmaker has sent letters to anyone he thinks may have donated to the American Legislative Council, asking them if they support “stand your ground” laws. In the past ALEC has promoted model legislation for “stand your ground” laws, but hasn’t done so since the furor following the Trayvon Martin shooting last year. As reported on the Cato Institute’s blog, Durbin concludes his letter this way:
I plan to convene a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights to examine “stand your ground” laws, and I intend to include the responses to my letters in the hearing record. Therefore, please know that your response will be publicly available.
The Cato Institute received one of the letters. Cato’s President, John Allison, responds this way:
While Cato is not intimidated because we are a think tank—whose express mission is to speak publicly to influence the climate of ideas—from my experience as a private-sector CEO, I know that business leaders will now hesitate to exercise their constitutional rights for fear of regulatory retribution.
Your letter thus represents a blatant violation of our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. It is a continuation of the trend of the current administration and congressional leaders, such as yourself, to menace those who do not share your political beliefs—as evidenced by the multiple IRS abuses that have recently been exposed.
Your actions are a subtle but powerful form of government coercion. [Cato Institute, August 9]