I was recently introduced to the term incrementalism in the book, “Notorious RBG”, a biography of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The term means gradual change and it is the opposite of sudden, radical change.
According to the book, Justice Ginsburg is an advocate of incrementalism because she believes incrementalism can provide a firm foundation for change. In direct contrast, radical change lacks a firm foundation and can crumble easily when threatened.
After reading this book, I am convinced that incrementalism is the best path for our civil rights movement. We need to build a firm foundation so that the changes we make will endure.
We started building that foundation in 2012 when we successfully challenged a law in the City of Simi Valley that required registered citizens to post a sign on the front door of their home. We continued to build that foundation in 2013 when we successfully challenged presence restrictions in the City of Lancaster that prohibited registrants from visiting public places such as parks, swimming pools and libraries as well as private places such as movie theaters and bowling alleys. We are now adding to that foundation with successful challenges to residency restrictions in cities such as Grover Beach and Arcadia.
In addition to success in the courtroom, we have experienced success in the state legislature where we have stopped bills such as Assembly Bill 201 in 2015 that would have authorized cities to reinstate presence restrictions and Senate Bill 54 in 2016 that would have required registered citizens to prove there is a lack of affordable and available housing in order to obtain relief from residency restrictions.
Each of these successes is an incremental step toward the change that is required. Each of these successes is another brick in the foundation of our movement. By building a strong foundation in an incremental fashion, we will reach our goal of protecting the Constitution by restoring the civil rights of more than 100,000 registered citizens and their families.
Today there are incremental steps to be taken both in the state legislature and in the courts. You are needed in Sacramento to help stop Senate Bill 448 on June 21 and Assembly Bill 2569 on June 28. You are needed in Oakland to protest the International Megan’s Law on July 27. Together we can and will achieve our goal.