The U.S. District Court judge presiding over our challenge to the International Megan’s Law (IML) has dismissed that case with prejudice. As a result of her decision, the case is over and the complaint cannot be amended as we had requested.
The judge’s decision is a setback, but our challenge to the IML is not over.
The fact is we are currently reviewing our options which include, but are not limited to, whether to appeal the judge’s decision or to file a new lawsuit in a different jurisdiction. We have up to 60 days to decide whether or not to appeal and we have an unlimited amount of time to decide whether to file a new lawsuit.
There is no doubt. The judge’s decision is a setback. For in her decision, the judge not only determined that the lawsuit was premature and that our plaintiffs lacked standing, she also determined that our claims were not valid. That is one judge’s opinion and there are many more judges who may have a different opinion.
As we weigh our options, the most important thing to remember is that every civil rights movement has its setbacks. In fact, there is no civil rights movement that has ultimately crossed the finish line and declared victory without first suffering a series of defeats.
For example, the civil rights activists advocating in support of same-sex marriage won an important court victory in Hawaii in 1993 only to have constitutional amendments passed in more than 30 states that outlawed those marriages. That movement struggled for more than 20 years before it declared victory when the U.S. Supreme Court decided in 2015 that same-sex marriages are valid.
As we move toward our finish line, we need to remember that it is the power of citizen activists, such as those involved in our civil rights movement, that ultimately change constitutional law. As author and law professor David Cole stated in his book, “Engines of Liberty”, sustained advocacy by groups of citizens usually over many years and in a wide array of venues is required to make those changes to the constitution.
Be an engine of liberty. Attend a monthly meeting. Write letters and make phone calls. Join us when we lobby in Sacramento early next year. Make a donation to our worthy cause.
And when you are ready, Show up – Stand up – Speak up.
— by Janice Bellucci
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