Community Self-Government

The Right of Local Community Self-government Guaranteed by State and Federal Constitutions Serves As the Foundation for the Movement

The following is a statement from attorney Thomas Linzey, the Executive Director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. This statement is in reference to the motion filed in the class action Lafayette Court Case against the State of Colorado, Governor Hickenlooper, and the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (Colorado Town Sues State, Gov. Hickenlooper and COGA to Protect Right to Ban Fracking):

“Although most won’t realize it, the Preliminary Injunction brief that we filed yesterday (8-19-14) was fairly historic – the first time in brief format that an argument about the right of local, community self-government has been advanced, which fleshes out most aspects of the umbrella theory under which we operate.

That basis – that the people of Lafayette (in this case) have a right of self-government and that the right of self-government is guaranteed by the state and federal constitutions (and by the charter amendment) serves as the foundation for the movement that must arise nationally over the next decade if things are ever going to change about people having control of their own destinies at the local level.

As such, the brief is not necessarily aimed at the judge. It’s aimed at your people – the folks that you’ve brought along over the past couple of years in Colorado.

All of them need to have a copy of the brief, and they all need to read it. They need to understand it, discuss it, and talk about it. It does no good to have the brief just be a private filing between the lawyers and the judge – it has to become alive in the brains of the people working on these issues.

So, I would encourage you to circulate it to all of your folks, with a note that explains how important it is, and that people should actually read it, although it’s a fairly lengthy document.

The work that we did on the CO brief will rapidly make its way into the other cases that we’re litigating – this past week, a small community in Pennsylvania was sued by an oil and gas company over the Township’s ban on an injection well. They voted yesterday to defend their ordinance and retain us to do so; and we’ll be using the work in Colorado as part of our briefing in that case, which is in federal court.

All to say, good stuff here – and eventually, we will need everyone to elevate their understanding of what’s at stake, and to begin talking the “language” of self-government. Building that solid theory and energizing people around it will be the key … .”