US Senator Targets Free Market Groups for Involvement with a Private Organization

MacIver News Service | August 8, 2013

[Washington, D.C.] Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) has taken it upon himself to target free market think tanks based on the sole fact that at some point since 2005, they may have been affiliated with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

The Senate Majority Whip is on a witch hunt to find organizations that support the “stand your ground” legislation that became prevalent in national media during the Trayvon Martin case in Florida.

The legislation that has Durbin fired up is also known as the “Castle Doctrine.” Many states have adopted a version of this law that allows people to defend themselves against criminals that break into their homes.

The Senator’s reason for targeting specific free market groups, like Common Sense Institute of New Jersey? There is some public information that these groups are affiliated with ALEC, which Durbin claims is in support of this type of legislation.

Durbin sent a letter to multiple private organizations requesting specific information about their funding for ALEC and if they support “stand your ground” legislation.

“I write to seek information regarding your organization’s position on “stand your ground” legislation that was adopted as a national model by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC),” Durbin wrote. “In 2005, ALEC approved the adoption of model “stand your ground” legislation entitled the “Castle Doctrine Act.” This model legislation was based on Florida’s “stand your ground” law, and it changes the criminal law regarding self-defense and provides immunity for certain uses of deadly force.”

In the letter sent to Common Sense Institute of New Jersey dated August 6, 2013, the Senator spells out that he is specifically targeting groups affiliated with ALEC and plans to include any responses in a hearing he is planning in September.

“Note that I am sending similar letters to other organizations that have been identified as ALEC funders at some point between 2005 and today. In September, 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.

ALEC sent a letter to members that very same day.  It said the group planned on defending its members’ rights to free speech and free association.  Additionally, the letter explained that the group had moved on to other issues.

“The letter [from Durbin] suggests our organization continues to support ‘stand your ground’; however, in an April 2012 decision by the Board of Directors, the American Legislative Exchange Council narrowed its focus to concentrate solely on pro-growth, economic issues,” the letter read.

Durbin gave a September 1 deadline to respond and did not state in the letter his reason for singling out ALEC and its affiliated groups.

See the letter from Senator Durbin here.

See the letter from ALEC here.