Center for Constitutional Rights says respond to election by demonstrating in D.C.
January 2001

You might expect that the nation's premiere corps of civil and human rights attorneys would be suggesting a court-based solution to the recent electoral coup, but no. The following is a statement by Ron Daniels, Executive Director, Center for Constitutional Rights, January 2, 2001:

Born out of the struggle against apartheid in the South in the '60s, the Center for Constitutional Rights has a longstanding interest in and commitment to voting rights and the enfranchisement of Blacks and other minorities in our society. Consistent with that commitment, CCR has litigated scores of cases in defense of disenfranchised or under- represented voters in the South and across the country. We believe that the right to vote is an indispensable pillar of our democracy which must be vigorously and scrupulously protected. To fail to do so is to undermine faith in our system of government and sow the seeds of distrust and discontent.

It is in that vein that we are compelled to express our outrage at the massive disenfranchisement of voters in Florida and around the country during the recent presidential election--an egregious process which disproportionately affected Black voters and other people of color. The U.S. Supreme Court decision--which halted the counting of a portion of the ballots (the undercount) in Florida, amidst widespread irregularities and flaws which resulted in untold thousands of ballots being cast aside in that state--sent a message that the will of the people can be circumvented and ignored by judicial decree. In effect the Supreme Court of the United States, by disenfranchising voters in Florida, sanctioned the "election" of an illegitimate President. It is an outcome that civil rights and human rights organizations like the Center for Constitutional Rights and people who believe in authentic democracy cannot accept in good conscience.

Therefore, in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, we endorse the idea of a Day of Resistance in Washington D.C. on January 20, Inauguration Day, to protest the installation of an illegitimate regime. The entire nation and the world must know that there are large numbers of people in this country who are dissatisfied with and do not accept the outcome of a flawed election. In this regard we applaud the mobilization of the International Action Center and other groups who are working to bring thousands of people to Washington D.C. on January 20th. Let a myriad of marches, demonstrations, rallies and vigils bloom on this historic day. We would also like to acknowledge the efforts of Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Black Leadership Forum who will be holding a major march and rally in Tallahassee, Florida on that day.

The Center for Constitutional Rights, however, will focus its energies on the nation's capital on January 20th. As an institution devoted to racial justice, we are particularly hopeful that thousands of African Americans and other people of color, as the groups who disproportionately bore the brunt of disenfranchisement in the November election, will mobilize in massive numbers to be present for the Day of Resistance in Washington, D.C. Accordingly, as Executive Director of CCR, I will be supporting and participating in the Shadow Inaugural March and Rally at the Supreme Court being organized by Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network. The Supreme Court, the scene of what can only be described as an infamous decision, is the right place to be on this Day of Resistance.

election protesters
election protesters

We also recognize that protest by itself is not enough. We must also act to blunt the effects of policies which we deem detrimental to people of color, women and poor and working people, and at the same time embrace initiatives for reform that will lead to authentic democracy. Therefore, we join with the NAACP in opposing the nomination of former Senator John Ashcroft of Missouri as Attorney General of the United States. We believe that his attitude and record on a broad range of issues as it relates to civil rights, judicial appointments and criminal justice concerns pose serious questions about his suitability to hold a position which directly affects the interests and aspirations of people of color, women and the poor in our country.

Beyond our opposition to the nomination of John Ashcroft, CCR would like to announce its endorsement and support for the Voter Bill of Rights and Pro-Democracy Campaign which a number of local, regional and national organizations have devised. We are hopeful that the proposals contained within the Voter Bill of Rights will serve as a guide to advocates for reform and to legislators at the local, state and national level who are pressing for the enactment of legislation and other initiatives designed to ensure that the catastrophe of Election 2000 does not occur again. The Voter Bill of Rights also envisions the adoption of remedies which will create an authentic participatory democracy in our nation. CCR is also committed to working collaboratively with the National Black Leadership Roundtable, under the leadership of Rev. Walter Fauntroy, to assist with the formulation and implementation of a legislative, legal and community based agenda for electoral reform and voter empowerment.

At the Center for Constitutional Rights, it is our conviction that we must seize the moment to protest the installation of an illegitimate administration and mobilize/organize to vigorously promote a Pro-Democracy Campaign that can fundamentally transform the essence and substance of citizen engagement and participation for all the people who live in our society. Out of the tragedy of disenfranchisement and illegitimacy of Election 2000, our mission and task is nothing short of perfecting the imperfect democracy within our nation.

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