Agitate, America!: ALEC, Stand Your Ground and Trayvon

Nancy Churchill

By Nancy Churchill
A Progressive Visionary

Regardless what is said about the Trayvon Martin case, it’s clear no law protected Trayvon from the stalker who shot him. And thanks to George Zimmerman, Trayvon was unable to tell his side of the story at Zimmerman’s trial. But even by Zimmerman’s own account, if anyone had grounds to invoke the “Stand Your Ground” law that night, it was Trayvon Martin.

But if his death has triggered one of those historical watershed moments that jolts people into action to reclaim our democracy, as it appears to have, then perhaps young Trayvon did not die in vain.

The now-infamous “Stand Your Ground” law is not unique to Florida. At least 21 states have passed similar laws over the past several years, and in nine of these the language is virtually identical to Florida’s law. This is because they originated from the same source.

This law is only one of thousands of laws cast like a web across the country by the secretive American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. Through its members — state legislators and corporate executives — it has been hijacking state governments since 1972, picking off legislatures one state at a time with “model” legislation designed to favor its corporate members.

Aided and abetted by the corporate members who will benefit, it drafts up to 1,000 “model” laws each year — on civil justice, commerce, communications, education, energy, health, tax and fiscal policy, and international relations — of which around 200 are passed virtually verbatim in numerous statehouses.

The worst part is that, as a private entity, neither ALEC nor its legislator members are obliged to provide constituents, who must live with these laws once they are signed into law, with any draft or even knowledge of them.

The secretive nature of this process is necessary to protect the perpetrators because these laws are clearly not intended to provide citizens with their constitutional rights. Quite the opposite. “Model” so-called “laws” like Stand Your Ground that are so prevalent across states now — that deprived Trayvon of his constitutional right of protection from his stalker — are often passed in the dead of night with no discussion.

How can this be constitutional?

But despite itself, ALEC has been exposed, in no small part because Trayvon’s death laid bare Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. Visit to learn, among other things, “how ALEC bills would privatize public education, crush teachers’ unions, and push American universities to the right” making “education a private commodity rather than a public good.”

Or “how ALEC bills … disenfranchise Americans and give corporations even more power to use their vast financial resources to influence elections in our democracy.”

Through ALEC,” it says, “corporations have both a VOICE and a VOTE affecting your voting rights and elections through these model bills. Do you?”

Now you can. Start by joining a protest, organized by ALEC Exposed, of ALEC’s 40th annual meeting at the Palmer House in Chicago at noon, Thursday, Aug. 8 (

Nancy Churchill was raised in the D.R.C. (Congo), raced stock cars on short dirt tracks for 25 years, and is a proud, lifelong member of “We, the People.” She lives in Oregon, Ill.

From the July 24-30, 2013, issue

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