Happy Thanksgiving week everyone! It’s a short week for us (Public Citizen will be closed Thursday and Friday) but still a busy one, as we continue to build momentum for a day of action on Jan. 21 – the two-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission – and prepare for several major events next week. So, don’t put your calendars away just yet!
They usually come just as you’re sitting down to eat dinner– robocalls! On Monday, Nov. 28, Public Citizen attorney Scott Nelson will argue before the U.S. Supreme Court for the second time this fall. This time, he’s contending that consumers have a right of access to the federal courts in cases under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The TCPA prohibits junk faxes and robocalls, and gives people who receive calls that violate the law the ability to sue for damages of $500 to $1,500 per violation. Nelson will argue that TCPA plaintiffs, like other plaintiffs with federal claims, should have access to the federal courts under their sweeping jurisdiction over cases that arise under federal law. The case is Mims v. Arrow Financial Services. For more information, click here.
Also next week, the GOP is once again making a run at eviscerating the regulatory system – you know, the federal system that helps keep our air and water clean, our food safe, our financial system secure, our toys lead-free and so much more . . . this is a battle we cannot afford to lose.
The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the REINS Act , a bill that would, in essence, repeal the 21st century undoing years of work and hard fought progress that has been made to keep citizens safe from industries that can, at times, be more driven by profit than the health and well-being of American citizens. REINS would take away what authority regulatory agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have and put it in the hands of Congress. After all the partisan bickering, crazy supercommittee debt ceiling nonsense and failure to come to consensus on anything but to call pizza a vegetable, do we as citizens really want Congress to take the “reins” (bad pun, intended!), allowing lawmakers the power of giving thumbs up or down on any new regulations?!
Then, there is the Regulatory Accountability Act, another absolute misnomer that would serve to create even more hurdles than there already are to the rulemaking process (and there are A LOT of hurdles, just look at how many lives were lost while regulators tried to get through rules for cranes used on construction sites). The Regulatory Accountability Act calls for all rules to be made based on cost and has provisions that would undermine decision-making based on science.
Both the REINS Act and the Regulatory Accountability Act are being pushed hard by corporate interests because they would hamstring the ability of federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the like to do their jobs. Working in our capacity as one of the leading groups of the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, www.sensiblesafeguards.org, we are doing our best to defeat those bills and hope you will do YOUR job as a public citizen. Click here to take action and help us stop the assault on public protections!
Last but not least . . . as our president aptly described the growing wave of activism gripping the country that has come under siege most recently, ” ‘We are the 99 percent’ is not a call that can be so easily silenced, nor a movement that can be stopped.” We were thrilled to have Occupy camps across the country opt to participate in the first of three video conference calls / nationwide organizing parties we are co-hosting with allies in run up to January 21 (on Twitter, #J21), the second anniversary of the Citizens United decision, which gave corporations the right to spend unlimited sums to influence our elections. And we hope that December 15, the date of the second set of organizing parties, will attract still more of the 99 percent who share a common frustration with the influence of money on the political process. Are YOU ready to be a public citizen, to take a stand and make sure that people (not corporations) are occupying our democracy? Don’t wait! Local planning sessions are already under way across the country. Click here to find out how you can host an organizing party on December 15 where you live, and stay tuned to Citizen Vox next week for an announcement about a special guest who, like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) did last time, will be joining us to help rally our efforts onward towards our goal — a constitutional amendment to reverse the Citizens United ruling!